Top Racing in France : What's up in 2018?

26 January 2018

Photo scoopdyga.com

A return to ParisLongchamp, a raise to promote a few of our best races, a stronger program for filles and mares, the promotion of our 2yos in the Summer, those are the best news of 2018 for racing in France.

ParisLongchamp back in the limelight with an exceptional Ganay

Prix Ganay (Gr1)’s purse goes from €300,000 to €600,000 to celebrate the grand opening of the new ParisLongchamp racecourse and the return of 48 Group races and 24 Listed races to their home place. With the Sheema Classic (Gr1) in March and the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Gr1) at the Curragh in May, the French curtain-opener was quite exposed.

Soon after, the French Guineas will return where they belong. With a small difference though as the French classic will now use the Moyenne Piste (Middle course) rather than the main course, since the start is too close to the first bend on that course. All the prep races at ParisLongchamp will also use the same course. Moreover, an open-stretch will be designed in the last straight to open the field at this critical point of the races, the way it does at Newmarket and Ascot on some occasions.

The Gurkha Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary (Gr1) is back alongside the Churchill Coolmore Prix d’Ispahan (Gr1) at the end of May after his 2-year stint in the French Guineas card.

  • Prix Ganay (Gr1) up to €600,000 (+€300,000)
  • Abu Dhabi Poule d’Essai des Poulains (Gr1) – 3yo – 1,600m  MP – May 13 – Longchamp
  • Abu Dhabi Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (Gr1) – 3F – 1,600m  MP – May 13 – Longchamp
  • The Gurhka Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary (Gr1) – F3 – 2,000m – May 27 - Longchamp

Two historic races get a raise : Prix Jacques le Marois-Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard (€1m) and Qatar Prix Vermeille (€600,000)

Two of the most celebrated races contested in France, the Prix Jacques le Marois-Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard (Gr1) and the Qatar Prix Vermeille (Gr1), have been increasignly exposed by the purses raise of similar races in the European pattern program. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr1) and the Sussex Stakes (Gr1) have passed the €1m mark while the Qatar Prix Vermeille no longer belongs to the top 100 World races since 2016, now that both Yorkshire Oaks (Gr1) and the Fillies and Mares Champion Stakes (Gr1) have made it to the same table.
Supported by their historic partner, the Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard, who supports the race since 1986 and features amongst its best performers, France Galop was able to raise the Prix Jacques le Marois-Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard's purse to €1m from €700,000.
Le Qatar Prix Vermeille is a French jewel who was created to be the "French Oaks" and became the "Fillies' Arc". In any case, it is an objective in itself and by raising its purse rom €350,000 to €600,000, France Galop makes sure it is.

  • Prix Jacques le Marois-Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard (Gr1) raised to €1m (+€300,000)
  • Qatar Prix Vermeille (Gr1) rasied to €600,000 (+€250,000)

Group1s make a difference for all

The total Gr1 purse in France has been severed by €2.8m since the owners premium in these races has been lowered to 25%. The top program has been the main contributor in a general effort.
However, three races needed a special support and France Galop decided to make exceptions. Our classic races are an heritage that we have received and must not only preserve but nurture and grow.
Money is not the only available tool to promote a race though. So the Prix Jean Prat (Gr1) will be moved to Deauville's straight course in 2018. That specific mile will probably make the race more palatable only weeks before the beginning of the Lucien Barrière à Deauville Summer meeting, with the Prix Jacques le Marois-Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard on top of it.

  • Prix Jean Prat (Gr1) – 3yo - 1,600m Straight – July 8 - Deauville

More support from QREC to Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend

The success of our Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend grows every year and the star race of the meeting has once again been recognized as the top race of the World through the Longines classifications.
Our partners in Qatar however felt that it was time to show more support to 5 major events of the weekend:

  • Qatar Arabian World Cup (Gr1-PA) purse raises to €1,2m (+€200,000)
  • Prix de l’Opéra Longines (Gr1) purse raises to €500,000 (+€100,000)
  • Total Prix Marcel Boussac (Gr1) purse raises to €400,000 (+€100,000)
  • Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère (Gr1) purse raises to €400,000 € (+€50,000)
  • Qatar Prix de la Forêt (Gr1) purse raises to €350,000 € (+ 50,000 €)

Meanwhile the Qatar Prix Vermeille and Arc Trials meeting is once again scheduled three weeks prior to the Arc weekend on Sunday, September 16. However the Qatar Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (Gr1) is back home by the windmill that gave it its name, and its usual date, one week earlier, on Sunday, September 9th. Just like the French Guineas, the mile race will be contested over the Moyenne Piste.
In the future, it could be interesting to gather the opinion of the European Pattern Committee to move some of the races leading to the Arc weekend 4 weeks prior to the event, although confrontation with the Irish Champion weekend would not help the general cause.

The females program, a strategy edicated to breeders

The raise of the Qatar Prix Vermeille is only the most visible tip of a larger aim to better the breeding program in France.

  • Stayers

France Galop is a strong supporter of the European Stayers initiative, especially for fillies and mares. hence the Prix Belle de Nuit, for 3yo and up fillies and mares due on October 27 at Saint-Cloud, has been promoted to Group 3 and was extended from 2,500m to 2,800m. Furthermore, a Listed race named Prix Gold River has been created in Longchamp on May 3rd with similar conditions.

  • Prix Belle de Nuit (Gr3) – F3+ - 2,800m – Octobre 27 – Saint-Cloud
  • Prix Gold River (L) – F4+ - 2,800m – May 3 - Longchamp

 

  • A rationnalized mares Listed program

4 of the most popular Listed races restricted to mares have been altered to better answer the needs of horsemen, and open more opportunities on various distances. Restrictions have been lifted so that top fillies and mares could get in with a weight penalty, rather than getting barred from racing at that level.

  • Prix Zarkava (L) – EBF – F4+ - 2,100m – April 8 – Longchamp – New conditions
  • Prix Maurice Zilber (L) – EBF – F4+ - 1,400m – May 6 - Longchamp – New conditions
  • Prix Urban Sea (L) – EBF – F4+ - 2,000m – June 17 – Le Lion d’Angers – Same conditions
  • Prix de la Calonne (L) – EBF – F4+ - 1,600m LD – July 8 – Deauville - New conditions
  • Prix de la Pépinière (L) – EBF – F4+ - 2 000m – July 22 – Maisons-Laffitte – Same conditions
  • Prix Luth Enchantée (L) – EBF – F4+ - 2,400m – Early August – Clairefontaine - New conditions
  • Grand Prix de Fontainebleau (L) – EBF – F4+ - 2,000m – September 11 – Fontainebleau – New conditions
  • Prix de la Cochère (L) – EBF – F3+ - 1,600m – September 5  – Longchamp – Same conditions
  • Prix des Tourelles (L) – EBF – F3+ - 2,400m – September 14 – Longchamp – Same conditions
  • Prix Dahlia (L) – EBF – F3+ - 2,000m – October 9 – Saint-Cloud – Same conditions
  • Prix Panacée (L) – EBF – F3+ - 2,400m – October 10 – Toulouse – Same conditions
  • Prix Casimir Delamare (L) – EBF - F3+ - 1,800m – October 21 – Longchamp – Same conditions
  • Prix Isola Bella (L) – EBF - F3+ - 1,600m – November 9 – Saint-Cloud – Same conditions

Juveniles on 7 furlongs : the birth of a French way?

Two races for 2yo Fillies over 7 furlongs have been promoted by the European Pattern Committee, in recognition of their improved ratings. The Prix du Calvados, which is run over the straight course, becomes a Group2 while the Prix Six Perfections, also at Deauville over 1,400m but with a curve and three weeks earlier, becomes a Group3.
Both races were very supported by the French trainers who claim they rather aime these longer races than shorter ones because their main concern is the following season. A mid-term strategy, if you will, rather than a pursuit of quick returns.
Threatened to lose its Listed status as soon as 2019, the Prix des Sablonnets (L) leaves Nantes for Deauville's all-weather track in December. This tranfer was suppirted by the horsemen institutions in the West of France as well as the Conseil du Plat at France Galop.

  • Shadwell Prix du Calvados (Gr2) – F2 – 1,400m Straight – August 18 – Deauville
  • Prix Six Perfections (Gr3) – F2 – 1,400m – July 28 – Deauville
  • Prix des Sablonnets (L) – 2yos – 1,500 m PSF - December – Deauville

The French program will adapt…

Amongst other changes of importance, the Prix Daphnis (Gr3) is now opend to colts and fillies alike over 1,600m at Deauville on August 21st.
The Prix Quincey (Gr3), a week earlier on the same distance, is now restricted to 4yo and above.
The popular 3yo sprinting program has received the support of a new Listed race, Prix Kistena (L), over 1,200m, on July 8 at Deauville, fitted to follow up on the Prix Marchand d'Or (L).
The Prix André Baboin has lost it Group3 status and was transformed into a Listed avent for 3yos over 2,000m in August at Deauville. It is now the Prix Nureyev ex-Prix André Baboin, and it will be staged on August 11th. 
Three Group2 events are threatened to lose their Group2 status: Prix Greffulhe, Prix du Gros-Chêne and Prix Hocquart. The Greffulhe has been badly rated because of its poor 2015 renewal with 3 horses in only. Providing this edition raises its standard, it should recover on time. The Prix Hocquart is now run later on June 18and its distance extended to 2,400m, like in 2017, so that it fits better in a trail Avre-Lys-Hocquart-Grand Prix de Paris that can help restoring its role.

  • Prix Kistena (L) – 3yo - 1,200m LD – July 8 – Deauville
  • Prix Pelleas (L) – 3yo – 2,000m – July 10 – Compiègne
  • Prix Nureyev ex-Prix André Baboin (L) – 3yo – 2,000m - August 11 – Deauville
  • Prix Daphnis (Gr3) – 3yo - 1,600m Straight – August 21 Deauville

The Part1 of the full French program can be downloaded by clicking here.