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Weekly Round-Up

26 January 2021

On Saturday 23 January, the mounted trotters took centre stage in the first race at Vincennes, lining up in the G2 Mounted Prix de Pardieu (2175m), reserved for four-year-old fillies, beginning a superb weekend of action at the Paris venue.

Hallix secured the prize in a new record kilometre rating of 1'11''9 for the event after displaying a burst of speed from the top of the straight to run her rivals down late, with rider Eric Raffin celebrating wildly crossing the line. The task was made easier by main danger in the stretch, Hilyrose d’Icelea, being disqualified close to home. Favourite Hope On Victory could never muster a serious threat, running into third from far back, but was later demoted following an investigation.

The winner remains undefeated in five outings this winter campaign and will be a leading contender for the G1 Mounted Prix du Président de la République (2850m) in June.

In the G3 Prix de Brest (2850m) walk-up it was Jean-Michel Bazire's short-priced favourite Dorgos de Guez who eased to success. The eight-year-old completed a hat-trick of wins this winter after travelling supremely well rounding for home. Once given an inch of rein from his rider the result was never in doubt. His record now reads twenty nine wins from sixty two starts and will head to the G3 Prix du Luxembourg (2100m) in a week’s time, a race in which he was runner-up last year.

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Twenty-four hours later (Sunday 24 January), the track had turned wet following heavy wintery showers ahead of an excellent afternoon of Graded trotting events.

Four graded contests in the space of two hours lit up a gloomy racetrack as mud-splattered horses were strung out across Vincennes. The mounted trotters were first up in the G2 Prix Camille de Wazières (2175m), which went the way of favourite Helitlopet for trainer Frank Leblanc and rider Adrien Lamy, confirming his status as the best four-year-old mounted trotter. The son of Un Charme Fou dominated from the front, easing clear down the straight to complete a fourth consecutive victory. Helios du Goutier gave chase into second, who was clear from the third-placed Heros de Fleur. With a kilometre rating of 1'12''2, Helitlopet achieved the second fastest time in the history of the Prix Camille de Wazières.

Half an hour later, it was the turn of the mobile trotters, with Hussard du Landret scoring in the G3 Prix Bellino II (2100m) for four-year-olds. The youngster was produced to win under a well-timed drive around the outside of favourite Huwaga to get up in final 100m and is likely to contest the G2 Prix Charles Tiercelin (2100m) on 31 January or the G2 Prix Ephrem Houel (2850m)  on 13 February. He is a progressive colt who is on an upward curve. Helboy of Alesa caught the eye finishing strongly in third.

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The feature mounted race of the season is the G1 Prix de Cornulier (2700m). The race had an open look to it without the two-time title holder Bilibili in the line-up but produced a thrilling finish. Matthieu Abrivard gained a fifth win in the prestigious race in unlikely fashion - riding Bahia Quesnot - who was inexperienced in the discipline. Indeed, this was the mare’s first ever mounted victory from five starts. 

She is already qualified for the G1 Grand Prix d'Amérique (2700m) and will head for the big race following this victory.

The race dramatically changed complexion down the back straight when favourite Gladys des Plaines was disqualified. The winner sat in a handy position throughout and was on the girths of the leader rounding for home but faced a challenger when Flamme du Goutier loomed to the outside. The six-year-old mare looked to have the winner’s measure down the stretch but Bahia Quesnot found a second wind on the inside to charge back to the lead in the final 100m to secure the prize. Etoile de Bruyere and Jerry Mom filled the remaining placings. 

The final Graded action occurred in race five, the G3 Prix Michel Marcel Gougeon (2850m). Fire Cracker proved much the best after erasing the 25m handicap at the start to quickly gain the lead and dominated throughout. Fast Domino and Free Man finished second and third, closing well from the strong pace. Huge credit is given to Fiesta du Belver who was the only one who could live with Fire Cracker’s speed during the race but faded late. This was a promising performance going forward.

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Pau staged the 134th edition of the Grand Prix de Pau, a G3 chase over 5300m, run on heavy ground. Trainer David Cottin, who won this prize three times as a jockey, completed a hat-trick of victories as a trainer. After winning the previous two renewals with Forthing and Laterana, it was progressive chaser Ajas who stayed on powerfully upped in distance to earn a career best performance. The son of No Risk was briefly threatened by previous G3 scorer Poly Grandchamp at the third last fence but had no answer to the determined effort from the winner. Eddy De Balme ran on into second but this was all about Ajas, who is open for further improvement having stayed this distance for the first time.

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