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Weekly Round-Up

16 February 2021

G2 Prix Ephrem Houel (2850m) – Vincennes – Saturday  

The Jean-Michel Baudouin four-year-old filly made it back-to-back Group successes when running out a cosy half-length winner of in the G2 Prix Ephrem Houel (2850m) at Vincennes on Saturday, a race open to four-year-olds, geldings excluded, that have won at least €23,000 in prize money. Driver Eric Raffin sat in midfield before the pair made quick progress to take up the running turning for home, securing an inside track position in the process.  The daughter of Gazouillis showed a smart turn of foot kicking clear in the home straight, seeing off her rivals in determined fashion. She looks sure to step back up to Group One level in the future.  

G1 Grand Prix de France Speed Race (2100m) – Vincennes – Sunday  

Sunday’s feature saw a surprise in the penultimate leg of the "Prix d'Amérique Races". The G1 Grand Prix de France Speed Race (2100m) returned to Sylvain Rogers’ stable as his eight-year-old, Délia du Pommereux, flew down the outside late to deny Sebastien Guarato’s superstar French trotter Face Time Bourbon.   

A dramatic race which first saw the defending champion Davidson du Pont disqualified when Jean-Michel Bazire tried to restrain his partner. The early disqualification tactically changed the dynamics of the race as driver Bjorn Goop immediately asked Face Time Bourbon to take up the running. With the son of Ready Cash perhaps better over further this looked a decisive move and the classy champion kicked clear turning for home with victory looking all but certain. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and perhaps this early manoeuvre set the race up for Délia du Pommereux, though in many ways he was left with few options once Davidson du Pont broke stride. Credit where credit is due, the daughter of Niky produced a potent turn of foot to get up under the shadows of the post.  

Both Délia du Pommereux and Face Time Bourbon recorded the same kilometre rating of 1'09''8, equalling the record set by Kool du Caux in 2007. The improving son of Bold Eagle, Aetos Kronos finished third.  

A top-class performer in her own right it was brilliant to see this excellent servant finally secure Group One glory at the eleventh time of asking.   

G1 Prix des Centaures (2200m) – Vincennes – Sunday  

A week after success in the mounted G1 Prix de l'Ile-de-France (2175m), Flamme du Goutier recorded back-to-back Group One victories when snatching the mounted G1 Prix des Centaures (2200m) in a record kilometre time of 1'10''8, previously held by Athena de Vandel as established in 2011. The fabulous Thierry Duvaldestin trained six-year-old mare showed pure guts and determination to get the better of Fame Music and Freeman de Houelle in a three-way thriller.  

It may have been rider Antoine Wiels’ decision to grab the inside line turning for home that proved crucial in the result. Denied only by Bahia Quesnot in the G1 Prix de Cornulier (2700m) it is more than fair to say this daughter of the great Ready Cash is a world-class performer and there is no reason why she cannot continue to compete at the top-level for many years to come.  

Listed Prix de la Californie (1600m) - Cagnes-Sur-Mer – Sunday 14 Fenruary  

King Shalaa remained unbeaten when running out a half-length winner of the Listed Prix de la Californie (1600m) at Cagnes-Sur-Mer on Sunday. The Francois Rohaut trained three-year-old made-all the running under Pierre-Charles Boudot as he battled on strongly against the fence to see off Fort Payne and favourite Summiter in an intriguing renewal.  

A €110,000 purchase at Arqana as a yearling he races in the colours of Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani. This half-brother to stakes winner Waltham looks sure to continue an upward trajectory as he strengthens throughout his three-year-old season. The victory provided a second individual stakes success for Arrowfield Stud stallion Shalaa and it would be no surprise to his precocious progeny enhance that record this year.  

Listed Grand Prix de la Riviera Cote d'Azur (2000m)  

The four-year-old son of Charm Spirit, Fantastic Spirit, gained his second success at Listed level in the Grand Prix de la Riviera Cote d'Azur (Listed, 2000m) at Cagnes-Sur-Mer.  

Nine went to post and trainer Jean-Claude Rouget saddled the first two home. Jockey Hugo Journiac settled his mount into a lovely rhythm in midfield but had to be patient when he was found waiting for room as the field quickened up approaching the 400m pole. The pair managed to work their way to the outside and the Ecurie Antonio Caro owned four-year-old showed a potent turn of foot to get first run, beating off stablemate American Bridge and favourite Kenway, who finished well for third from an uncompromising position.  

That success takes Fantastic Spirit to five victories from eleven starts. Further black type surely awaits from this still-improving sort.