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Weekly Round-Up

23 February 2021


Empire struck for trainer Thomas Malqvist in the G3 Prix de Nevers (2850m) for five and six-year-olds on Thursday. The son of Vaesterbo Prestige made all the running under a good ride. Franck Nivard eased the pace down the back straight for the final time, stacking up his four remaining rivals rounding for home before kicking at the 400m marker. He just managed to hold on at the winning line with the fast finishing For You Madrik (Jean-Luc Bigeon/Eric Raffin) taking second. One could argue the Up And Quick colt was a shade unlucky after being caught in a pocket approaching the home straight before seeing daylight. The winner built on his good fifth in the G2 Prix Bold Eagle (2100m) last time and could be set for a rise in grade in the coming months. Favourite Fairplay D’Urzy (Jean-Michel Bazire) was disqualified for galloping passing the stands for the first time. 

It feels like we are living in Thierry Duvaldestin’s world this February as he won a Group One event for the third consecutive Sunday. Following the successes of Flamme du Goutier in the Mounted G1 Prix de l'Ile-de-France (2175m) and G1 Prix des Centaures (2200m), the three-year-olds took centre stage in the running of the G1 Prix Comte Pierre de Montesson (2700m), more commonly known as the Critérium des Jeunes. In The Money completed a remarkable few weeks for the handler as he guided and bred the son of Crystal Money, out of Ready Cash-mare Destinee Cash to a fast-finishing success. Italiano Vero (Philippe Allaire/David Thomain) was sent off favourite, finishing runner up, followed by the closing Invincible Cash (Ludovic Peltier/David Bekaert). 

The race was run at a quick tempo from the outset, with Ideal Ligneries (Philippe Billard/Franck Nivard) dominating the early stages until joined by the free-running Inoubliable (Philippe Moulin/Jean-Philippe Dubois) leaving the home stretch for the first time. By the time the duelling pair reached the end of the straight on the far side it was race over for Inoubliable - winner of her last two starts in Group Two company - who downed tools quickly and was eventually pulled up. Italiano Vero had the perfect stalking trip in third and once his driver David Bekaert asked him for an effort he quickly challenged for the lead at the penultimate turn, quickening in good style. He mastered the long-time leader at the 200m marker but was overtaken in the final strides by In The Money. Invincible Cash caught the eye finishing strongly into third. The winner finished fifth behind a few of these in the G2 Prix Paul Viel (2175m) earlier this month but bounced back to his best form like he showed when a one length winner of the G2 Prix Maurice de Gheest (2700m) previously. It’s fair to say the race was set up beautifully and resulted in a new record for the contest in 1'13''4. This could be a platform for further success down the line for the front three, with all being aimed for the feature riches throughout this season.   

Earlier on the card, Carly (Thierry Duvaldestin/Mathieu Mottier) was impressive winning the Mounted G3 Prix du Pontavice de Heussey (2175m). Settling in rear, the Rolling d'Heripre gelding made his move at the end of the back straight, producing a superb burst of acceleration which put the race to bed in a matter of strides entering the home straight. He won in a record time of 1’10”2, completing a third G3 victory and 22nd career success. The heavily favoured Freeman de Houelle attempted to lead throughout but looked awkward at the final turn, proving no match for the easy winner. 

Hunter Valley (Tomas Malmqvist/Adrien Lamy) was a surprise winner of the G3 Prix d’Orthez (2850m) for four-year-olds. This was a career best performance from the three-quarter sister of Bold Eagle (Ready Cash), who arrived in the shadows of the winning post under a determined effort. She gained the better of Bolero Ger and second favourite Hatchet Man in a tight finish. Favourite Balsamine Font was disqualified in the early stages of the race. 

Cagnes Sur Mer 

The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained four-year-old booked his ticket for the all-weather Mile Championship at Lingfield in April with a late surge to win the Listed Prix Saonois (1600m) at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Saturday. The result looked unlikely as outsider Canagat (Georgios Alimpinisis/Theo Bachelot) built a huge lead down the back straight. The winner, along with eventual runner up and favourite Kenway (Frederic Rossi/Pierre-Charles Boudot), gave chase to the leader entering the straight but still had more than ten lengths to find at the 400m marker. As the leader tired considerably 200m from home the son of Siyouni produced a decisive turn of foot to score quite cosily in the end. A turf winner last campaign, he has now scored consecutive successes over 1600m at Cagnes-sur-Mer which should stand him in good stead if lining up at the left-handed Lingfield all-weather track.