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Paris, France – Sunday afternoon the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes will transcend into the biggest day of harness racing around the globe. It’s the 100th anniversary of the classic trotting event, the Grand Prix d’Amerique. There will be 18 world class trotters racing from a standing start, 2,700 meters (1.67 miles), down and up a hill, completing for 900,000€ in prize money. But at Vincennes, it’s more than just a rich race. It’s a tribute week honoring America for its help in fighting World War I. The track is already decorated throughout the entire facility with the Red, White and Blue and Stars and Stripes of America. There will be more than 1.6 million euros in prize money for the afternoon. There are 11 races, 7 of them graded stakes. It is estimated that more than 30 million euros will be wagered on the afternoon to evening race program. The races start at noon (6:00 am in the USA east coast) with six races held. Then the following takes place after the sixth race. Parade of 100 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, 100 young drivers, 100 flag bearers, acrobats, dancers, stilt walkers, surprise birthday party for the 100th Grand Prix d’Amérique The 18 drivers in the Prix d’Amerique will be presented individually on the Vincennes Hippodrome de Paris track. The French Royal Lancers Show on the racetrack arena. The post parade of the 18 horses and drivers in the Prix d’Amerique. Then the Grand Prix d’Amerique race will start at 4:10 pm followed by a victory lap for the fans by the official winner of the race. That will be followed by a major winner’s circle presentation to the winning connections followed by the last four races on the program. For the Prix d’Amerique race itself. Bold Eagle is the class of the field. A career winner of 4,956,617€, Bold Eagle is a son of Ready Cash who will have the top driver Eric Raffin in the sulky. He has won the Prix d’Amerique twice, just as his sire did. If he can finish in the top four positions, he will surpass the great Timoko and become the richest French trotter in history. Back in November he came to Canada and the won the Breeders Crown for Older Trotters. The horse most people are talking about is Face Time Bourbon. Also sired by Ready Cash, Face Time Bourbon is a five-year-old stallion that was a late bloomer, but in the past two years has made just 21 starts, but has won 18 times with two second place finishes. His driver, Bjorn Goop, won the Prix d’Amerique in 2018 with Readly Express. There are six mares in the field and the top one is last year’s Prix d’Amerique winner, Belina Josselyn. This nine-year-old daughter of Love You was sidelined with an injury for the better part of the 2019 season but has made a superb comeback. She was so dominant recently in the Grand Prix de Belgique that she may very well be able to defending her title from last year. She also had the great Jean-Michel Bazire driving. Other horses that cannot be overlooked include Propulsion, Billie De Montfort, Davidson Du Pont, Uza Josselyn and Ringostarr Treb, who will be retired to stud duty as the Prix d’Amerique will be his last start as a racehorse. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Vincennes, France – On the eve of the prestigious Grand Prix d’Amerique, American-born trainer, Jerry Riordan announced that this will be the last race for his top performer, Ringostarr Treb. Sired by Classic Photo, Ringostarr Treb has competed in 95 races with 33 wins and career earnings of 1,648,631€. “He is feeling great,” Riordan said of Ringostarr Treb, but this will be the last race of his career tomorrow. It just happens to be the Prix d’Amerique. The important thing for us is that after tomorrow we will not have him anymore. He is going to be a stallion so it’s a happy ending. “He’s ten years old now,” Riordan added. “It’s time for him to stop racing. I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career then racing in the Prix d’Amerique. With all the thousands of people clapping and cheering for the race, we will just think they are cheering for Ringostarr Treb’s last race.” A winner of the 2018 Elitloppet, Ringostarr Treb will be known for his classic battles with Propulsion in many elite races. It is his second time racing in the Prix d’Amerique. He will be driven by Jean-Philippe Monclin and is owned by E. Vam Racing Trotters. John Campbell, Tom Charters and Moira Fanning of the USA’s Breeders Crown/Hambletonian Society were at Vincennes and they were honored in the second race Saturday. Named the Prix Moni Maker, the trio made the trophy presentation to the winner. “I have been to Vincennes three times,” said Hall of Famer John Campbell. “And I regret that I never drove in a race here. I knew the first time I came here I should have asked to drive in some races. It’s such an amazing track, the racing surface is superb, the fans are so supportive of racing. I made a big mistake. It would have been great to have a drive in the Prix d’Amerique, but I would have been happy to get a drive in any race at this amazing track.” The Hippodrome Pari-Vincennes racetrack is an amazing place. There are three huge jumbo screens to watch the races from outside. New this year is a special running board that features what position each horse is in as the race is going. They also have a camera mounted on wires that catches all the action as the field comes down the stretch, very similar to what is done in professional American football. The paddock area for the horses racing that day is attached to the grandstand so people can go back and forth to see the horses with ease. But I know tomorrow it will be jammed, elbow to elbow. On Saturday there was a crowd of 15,000 fans and it will be hard to imagine that tomorrow there will be close to 40,000 fans. Tomorrow Vincennes will be the Kentucky Derby of Harness Racing. The feature race on Saturday was the 100,000€ Prix du Luxembourg. The winner was 18-1 Anzi Des Liards for driver Romain Derieux, who won by one length in 1’10’9, a lifetime record for the upset winner. He is a 10-year-old son of Look De Star. Track Notes: Harnesslink’s Thomas Hicks reported that the final Arqana-Trot Prix d’Amerique Sale at Paris-Vincennes produced some explosive bidding. Overall the sale saw 161 lots sold from 258 presented with gross proceeds of 3,529,000€, an average of 21,919€. The gross was up 1.6% from last year with the average down nearly 6%. Three young females sold by Jean Pierre Dubois led the sale. The sale topper at 370,000€ was hip 228 High Qualita (3f Ready Cash-Qualita Bourbon) that has recorded a win and two placings in four starts for 15,900€ earned. This is a classic pedigree with the dam Qualita Bourbon being a Gr. I winner of 1,538,050€ and this is the maternal family of Mara Bourbon, Kamera Bourbon, Sam Bourbon and the 2020 Prix d’Amerique starter Face Time Bourbon. The other Dubois presented toppers were hip 238 Haiti Dream (3f Love You-Tahiti Dream) that SRF Stable acquired for 200,000€ and hip 223 Gourgandine (4f Bold Eagle-Udine) that brought 160,000€ from Thomas Bernereau. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Grosbois, France – As one of the top harness racing drivers in all of Europe, Bjorn Goop knows his horses and he says that his horse in Sunday’s 900,000€ Grand Prix d’Amerique, Face Time Bourbon, is in prime shape. The horse heads into the Prix d'Amerique on a five-race winning streak. “The horse is good,” Goop stated. “I think it is I that will need to have a little luck.” Goop was referring to and explaining that the Prix d’Amerique is so different from any other horse race because it is done from a standing start. There is no starting gate used for this world class field of horses. “It is not easy to be ready in a standing start,” Goop explained. “You have to stay in your general area and keep on moving, waiting for the word to start. You need to time it just right and yet you need some luck too. “You do not want to be last at the start,” Goop added, “And you do not want to be in the middle of the pack on the rail and then you are trapped for the race and cannot get out.” There are 18 horses going in the Prix d’Amerique, 18 older trotters, most of whom earned their way into the race by winning other Groupe races. More than half the field have each won over 1 million euros with Bold Eagle leading way. The two-time Prix d’Amerique winner has career earnings of 4,956,617€. A win, second or third place finish will put Bold Eagle over the 5-million-euro mark. Face Time Bourbon is a five-year-old stallion by Ready Cash, the same sire as Bold Eagle, who also won the Prix d’Amerique twice. The 2019 race season was superb for Face Time Bourbon as he started just 11 times with 9 wins and two second place finishes. Every one of his starts was in a Groupe I, II or III races. Face Time Bourbon is trained by Sebastien Giuarato, who has three starters in the Prix d’Amerique, Face Time Bourbon, Valko Jenilat and the mare, Billie de Montfort. Face Time Bourbon is owned by Scuderia Bivans SRL, who also has Vivid Wise AS in the Prix d’Amerique. Bjorn Goop has his choice of whom to drive in the Prix d’Amerique and he choose Face Time Bourbon. “He is such a great horse,” Goop said. “He can race well from behind or can go on the front. I think for this race maybe we sit in the middle and see what happens. He is coming into this race in very good shape.” Goop is no stranger to the Prix d’Amerique. He won the race in 2018 with Readly Express and then raced back with him again in 2019 and was third. This past year Goop scored his 7,000th career win and has over 2,000 wins as a trainer. Track Notes: Of the 18 starters in the Prix d’Amerique, 8 are mares. All 18 horses will be not be wearing shoes in the race, which is not uncommon in European trotting. It was also reported that the Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) have posted a better-than-forecast set of provisional results for 2019, with turnover of €9.56 billion and an operating profit returned to fund racing and trotting of €760 million. That is €13 million ahead of budget and will be welcome news to both the Trotters and Thoroughbreds, both of whom have been forced to tighten their belts in terms of running costs in recent years. Saturday’s race card at Vincennes will feature the Groupe II Prix de Luxembourg with a purse of 100,000€. Thursday first day of the Arqana-Trot Prix d’Amerique Sale saw 152 lots presented with 95 sold (62.5%) for gross proceeds of 1,263,000€. Stallion shares and broodmares highlighted the offering, many of the mares being in foal. Charmeause Mayjc (8f Prince Gede) led the sale at 120,000€ to AM Bloodstock. She was bred to Love You in 2019 and is barren, but her Ganymede first dam Teza Josselyn has produced the million euro plus winner Uza Josselyn that starts in Sunday’s Prix d’Amerique. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

January 24, 2020 - Harness racing action this day of the Etalons Expo at Vincennes was at Cagnes sur Mer where the Prix des Ancolies (purse 35,000€, 2925 meters, 13 starters) went to 1.14.4kr timed and 10/1 odds Give Me Cash (4m Ready Cash-Vive Majyc) with Gwenn Junod up. Louis Baudron bred and trains the winner that now has three career wins. The 1.9/1 favorite Gun Sissi (4m Vabellino) took second for Yannick Alain Briand and 54/1 Guards (4f Ouragon de Celland) was third with Kevin Devienne aboard. Give Me Cash The prior day at Vincennes the Prix de Wolvega (purse 49,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 14 starters) saw the 3/5 favorite Douxor de Guex (7g Jasmin de Flore) score for Jean Michel Bazire and owner Ecurie Vautors timed in 1.14.4kr. This one recorded his 12th win in 24 appearances, now for 198,420€ earned, and he has five wins in his last six outings. Douxor de Guez Bazire earned another win when he teamed 2.6/1 CD (6f Great Challenger-Quite A Beauty) to victory in the Prix Yonkers Raceway (purse 50,000€, 2850 meters, 12 starters) timed in 1.17.7kr. She won for the third time in 10 starts in France and now has career earnings of 167,056€. Stald CD of Denmark owns CD. The 43/1 Eliska Berry (6f Rocklyn) was second with Hugues Monthule at the lines for owner/trainer Pascal Monthule. The driver also cares for champion Bold Eagle. CD Tomorrow is the Gr. III International Prix du Luxembourg and its a greta lineup of upper level horses. The early favorites are Dorgos de Guez, Mindyourvalue WF and Detroit Castelets although watch our for Valokaja Hindo, Earl Simon, Tessy d’Ete, Shadow Gar and Orlando Jet. Thomas H. Hicks

Vincennes, France – The maiden visit to the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes was an amazing experience to this first-time visiting American. And I never saw a horse on the track. There was no live racing today because the entire grandstand area was jammed packed with exhibits for the Prix d’Amerique Horse Expo plus outside was the annual ARQANA Trot horse sale. Just about anything you could imagine for your horse was there and so were the people, hundreds of people, visiting the booths, socializing with friends and business acquaintances, making deals for stallion breeding’s. They had just about everything that you could want for your horse and then some. And there was champagne, not just bottles, cases and more. Of the 100 or so exhibits I think 70% of them offered perspective business associates’ champagne. And we all drank some. Well, more than just some. I also saw tons of empty bottles stacked or being tossed out. “When you are in France, you drink champagne,” said Filip Van Hauwermeiren, a top breeder and trainer from Belgium who owns Star Breeding. “It is actually less expensive than bottled water or coke.” Hauwermeiren was promoting his stud farm where he not only has local stallions, but can provide breeders with frozen semen from world champion stallions Father Patrick, Trixton, Southwind Frank, Propulsion and Paster Stephen. There were plenty of stud farms there, along with a huge display from Finn Tack of all the equipment you can imagine from harnesses to jogging and race sulkies. There were horse shoes, feed, track surface materials, even a small backhoe just perfect for the smaller farms. Out of the racetrack, on the apron area you could check out the latest horse vans and trailers. There was even a big display of newest Hippocenter that sells swimming treadmills and water therapy units for horses. They even had the newest portable washing machine called My Groom that is able to clean all horse equipment. Not just a winter blanket that a horse has been rolling in the mud with. But you can even throw in the harness and bridle with the bit and this machine will clean it right up and in many cases all you need is the cleaning soap and a little water. It was just amazing. And, for those of you that are hungry, and we all need some food after drinking all that champagne, then just stop by one of the many concession stands that sold hamburgers and fries or perhaps a two pound lobster, some colossal shrimp, oysters and clams for $100 per person. They had it all there.   Check out the photos as they can tell the story of what this major Expo was all about. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

January 23, 2019 They shone in the 2019 edition The magical trio of Jean-Michel Bazire Belina Josselyn, Looking Superb and Davidson du Pont, respectively 1st, 2nd and 4th of the 2019 edition (review the race) are again in the running this year. The ambitions are the same but the distribution of forces is quite different, in particular by the rise in power of Davidson du Pont, qualified from the first race of winter and superb finisher in the recent Grand Prix de Belgique. To do better than last year Bold Eagle and Propulsion had to be content with small places in 2019 but are at the head of exceptional prize lists which give them again this year a leading role in the context of the race. Bold Eagle will participate in his fifth Grand Prix d’Amérique, a race which he has twice pinned down: in 2017 and 2018. He is the most active French trotter and can even pass Timoko to this classification in case of good weather. performance Sunday. Eric Raffin, Gold Sulky in 2019, will be associated with him: together they have two successes in four joint attempts. Twelve months ago, Bold Eagle finished 6th just behind the Swedish Propulsion, which will race the Grand Prix d’Amérique for the fourth time. He never won it but was there. In Scandinavia, it is the absolute benchmark in age horses and even more since the retirement of Readly Express. His bank account proves it: with more than 3 million euros in earnings, he is the second richest horse at the start. Three mares have shone in Europe in recent months and will also try to do better than in 2019. Uza Josselyn (7th) was crowned European Champion of Mares last summer (see article), Billie de Montfort (No Placed) won the European Tour of the French Trotter and Bahia Quesnot (Not Placed) lived an incredible 2019 season all over the planet-races (see article). Add to this beautiful skewer of champions, Délia du Pommereux (Disqualified) who arrives in much better shape than last year and pleased observers in the Grand Prix de Belgique. Finally, Valko Jenilat (Not Placed) will be the dean of the race from the age of 11, the maximum age newly authorized to participate in the race. We remember his prestigious success this summer at La Capelle (review the race). Qualified newcomers If all the aforementioned trotters can count on their experience to achieve the best possible performance, it will however be a great first for those featured in this chapter. Another common point: they and she all won their place by qualifying in one of the qualifying races. First of all, the very popular Chica de Joudes, who won her ticket at the British Grand Prix de Bretagne. Vivid Wise As achieved its goals in the Grand Prix de Bourgogne while Enino du Pommereux had to wait for the Grand Prix de Belgique (2nd) to secure his place on the starting grid. In the Prix Tenor de Baune and Critérium Continental, there was only one qualifying ticket, so you shouldn’t miss it. The displays of strength and speed of Excellent and Face Time Bourbon convinced their supporters and perhaps even converted some of them. The foreign coalition Three trotters from Europe complete this peloton of eighteen units: the Swedish Milligan’s School presented by Stefan Melander, the Italian Vitruvio and Ringostarr Treb, winner in 2018 of the Elitloppet and 7th in the 2018 edition of the Grand Prix d’Amérique. For the full field click here Reprinted with permission of Le Trot    

January 23., 2020 - Today’s Quinte+ race of the day was the Prix de la Semaine Intertnational (purse 50,000€, 2850 meters, European eligibles) at Paris-Vincennes with the 1.17.1kr timed victory earned by 14/1 odds Docteur d’Erable (7g Ganymede-Rue d’Erable). David Thomain teamed the J.P. Thomain trainee for Ecurie du Haras d’Erable. His life earnings are now 234,490€. 10/1 Champion Dore (8g Prince Gede) was second for Matthieu Abrivard with 14/1 Dandy de Godrel (7m Timoko) third for Alexandre Abrivard. 8.5/1 Moni Viking (7m Maharajah) with Pierre Vercruysse up and 159/1 Chistera (8f Qwerty) handled by J.Ph. Monclin completed the top five and set up an exact order Q+ payoff of 353,865.60€. The Q+ pool was 3,064,804€ and over 6,732,000€ was wagered on the race. Yesterday the Q+ race was at Cagnes sur Mer in the Prix Une de Mai (purse 44,000€, 2925 meters) with the 1.13.4kr timed victory going to 7/10 favorite Elsa de Belfonds (6f Tornado Bello-Taifa). Nicolas Ensch teamed and trains this now 12 time winner for owner Thomas Levesque. Elsa has career earnings of 353,690€. She scored by less than a length over 23/1 Creature Castelets (8f Pomerol de Laumac) with J.Ch. Feron at the lines. Nicolas Ensch also trains this one. The other top five finishers were 89/1 Baronne de Bapre, 7.8/1 Christo and 147/1 Balthazar Maza and these longshots created a Q+ exact order payoff of 26,005.80€. The Q+ pool was 3,313,927€ and over 7,274,000 was wagered on the race. Elda e Belfonds Groupe Contests at Vincennes (plus amateur classic), listed below, will make the upcoming weekend very special. January 25: Prix de Luxembourg (100,000€, Gr. III International, 2100 meters autostart) Coupe d’Europe des Amateurs (14,000€, 2100 meters autostart, International)   January 26 Prix Harley-Davidson (Prix Camille Blaisot) Gr. II monte, 100,000€, 2850 meters Prix Case IH (Prix Jacques Andrieul) Gr. II monte, 100,000€, 2850 meters, International Prix RMC (Prix Charles Tiercelin) Gr. II, 100,000€, 2100 meters autostart, European Prix d’Amerique, Gr. I, 900,000€, 2700 meters, International Prix Gras Savoye Willis Towers Watson, Gr. III, 80,000€, 2100 meters autostart, European Prix Lenotre (Prix Helen Johansson), Gr. III, 80,000€, 2100 meters autostart, European Prix Fondation Pour la Rechache Medicale, Gr. III, 60,000€, 2100 meters autostart, European In addition, certain races are named for other sponsors Lalique, Printemps Nation and 20 Minutes. Thomas H. Hicks  

January 23, 2019 - Today begins the annual Arqana-Trot mixed sale at Paris-Vincennes. This attractive sales includes stallion shares, season 2020 breedings, broodmares and racing stock. There are three sessions, 7:00pm today local time and 11:00am and 7:00pm tomorrow with the last two sessions sharing the stage with the Etalons Expo. Dinner is served in the sale facility. The Expo hosts many exhibits by stud farms, stallion owners, equipment and feed suppliers. The sale and Expo draw a huge audience from throughout Europe. For the Catalogue click here. Thomas H. Hicks

Grosbois, France – Nestled within the 1,100 acres of the Grosbois Training Center just outside of Paris, is a huge former castle. It is spectacular and it is the home of the French Trotting Museum since 2010. The 1,100 acres came under control in 1563 by Raoul Moreau, then the treasurer of Spain, whose relation Nicolas Harlay de Sancy, the Surintendant des Finances et des Bâtiments du roi, built a château there at the start of the 17th century. Over the many earlier year’s the property changed hands many times and as the castle grew, a large moat was built around it. During World War II, Grosbois Castle served as a hospital for the American Red Cross. Army troops were also quartered by the hundreds in the castle.. Elisabeth Berthier de Wagram was the last owner of the property. She died in 1960 and due to taxes, upkeep and other financial reasons, the property was sold in 1962 to René Ballière, president of the Société d’encouragement à l’élevage du cheval français, who bought the estate to set up a training center for trotting racehorses. While the moat had been drained and now features a beautiful lawn where we saw peacocks frolicking about, the original walls and barred windows can still be seen. After you enter the museum the first gallery you come to shows the origins of racing, dating back to 2,735 years before Christ, which was the first Olympic games held in Greece. The second gallery shows the origins of the trotting races in France. The first official race was held on September 25, 1836 on the Cherbourg beach. Other galleries exhibit French horse sculptures, the creation of the French Trotting Breed, Vincennes Racetrack, known as the Temple of Trotting in Europe, an entire gallery on Betting and Racing, the training center at Grosbois, the evolution of the harness and equipment and the immortals of the trotting world. There are also many displays of harness racing in Currier and Ives paintings from America, where the birth of harness racing as we know it first began. Perhaps the section I liked the best is part of Gallery 6 that is devoted to jobs linked to the trotting races. It not only shows a multitude of jobs connected within the trotting industry including a breeder, trainer, driver, jockey, veterinary and equine dentistry, farriers, equipment supplier and more. But the French have taken it a step further with their horse racing schools. They offer full-time education relating directly with the trotting races. The school prepares students for diplomas as caretakers and exercise riders after two years of schooling both classroom and hands-on and there is also a three-year program in equine enterprise management. Being just ten years old, you cannot compare the French Trotting Museum to that of the much more established and older Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in Goshen, New York. But let’s give credit to the French in that over the years to come this exquisite castle will continue to grow with more interesting exhibits and displays. Perhaps the accompanying photographs can tell the story better than words can. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Grosbois, France – Growing up in New Jersey in the USA and getting into the harness racing industry, I was around when they broke ground and built exquisite training facilities at Showplace and Gaitway Farms. But they are not that exquisite when compared to Grosbois, just outside of Paris, France. In fact, there may not be another harness racing training facility in world that could be compared to Grosbois. Upon entering the grounds, the entrance way features wrought-iron 20-foot gates attached to 12-foot walls that encompass the entire facility, which is just over 1,000 acres in size. In the far distance you can see a huge Manor House and green grass and dirt roads, also paths that lead to wooded areas with harness racing trotters galore jogging about. We were greeted at the horsemen’s entrance by Damien Beau, who is with the International Department of LeTROT, that oversees all of trotting in France. He was our guide for the private tour. We first went to the home of renowned Swedish and French trainer Anders Lindqvst, who was so kind to show us his home, his office, and his attached courtyard with maybe 40 stalls filled with trotters. There are no pacers in Europe except for Ireland and England. Linqvist first became interested in harness racing at the age of 14. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” Linqvist said. “But someone took me on a jog with a horse and I really liked that. My father wanted me in the family business,” Lindqvist added. “but after I worked with the horses a little, I trained a fast mile and that feeling convinced me to go into harness racing. “My first good horse I got I was age 22,” Lindqvist recalled. “And it was at that point that I said goodbye to working for my father part-time and took up harness racing full time. This horse, which gave me many wins, was at the time, sadly named Mr. Nixon. But despite his name he was my foundation horse. Mr. Nixon raced for me 431 times. That is the all-time record still in Sweden. “Then I was once racing in the Elitloppet in 1985,” Lindqvist said. “And after the race with Viroid (finished 5th) I was contacted by Mr. Lew Barash in the USA, asking me to come and race in the International Trot at Roosevelt Raceway and then I was hooked on international racing. “From there I was on my own for ten years,” Lindqvist explained. Until the great trainer/driver Jean-Pierre Dubois asked me to work for him in France. It was like being invited to be part of the Dream Team in basketball and I have been here ever since.” Lindqvist has driven in 19 countries, even twice in Russia. “When I won my first race in Russia,” Lindqvist said. “I got towards the winner’s enclosure, they stopped me and said they had to take my whip away. This was some security people and I did not understand why. Then I saw that the trophy was going to be presented to me by President Valdimir Putin and realized security would not let anyone get near him with a whip. That was something very special in my life.” Anders home has four bedrooms in addition to the attached 40 horse stalls and he said he pays around $8,000 per month rent for everything. That might seem a lot, but he also rents his spare bedrooms and most of his stalls to other trainers for their horses. He said it is like that throughout Grosbois, although some of the beautiful homes and barn areas are leased by horse owners, who turn around and rent or trade rooms/stalls for trainers and grooms to take care of their horses. Lindqvist also has a coffee vending machine in his office. Why one might ask and Anders jokingly said because during the winter season he has so many visitors he gives away around 4,000 cups of coffee. There are over five miles of just jogging tracks at Grosbois. It also has two tracks that horses can fast work on, a five-eighths mile track and a 15th/16th mile track, where horses can qualify to race at nearby Vincennes Racetrack. They also have an equine hospital on the grounds that is used by some 15 veterinarians. That many vets are needed for the 1,500 racehorses that call Grosbois home throughout the winter season. There are also numerous blacksmith shops on the grounds. At Grosbois, there are about 60 people that work in track maintenance to keep the large grounds clean and the track surfaces in prime shape. They use three different materials that are used on the jogging tracks and horseman use certain courses depending if they want a deep cushion, harder or softer surfaces for the horse’s hooves. You will also see many trotters being ridden at Grosbois as in France they have many trotting races under saddle. This past weekend the richest monte race (monte means under saddle) in the world took place at the Vincennes track with 15 horses racing for a purse of 650,000 euros. There is also a very nice horseman’s cafeteria and a party room on the grounds, tennis courts and soccer fields. The jogging trails also cut through the massive wooded area of Grosbois where people jogging horses have come across wild boar, reindeer, foxes and many birds of prey. The entire area was purchased and developed into the training facility in 1962 and continues to grow. It is 11 miles from the outskirts of Paris and only six miles away from the Vincennes Racetrack. And what if the weather is raining but you still need to work your horse. Then you just head over to the covered training track or perhaps lunge-line your horse at the indoor arena. It’s all at Grosbois. Coming up on Thursday, it’s back to Grosbois we go, this time to visit the special Manor House that is home to the French Trotting Museum and more. by Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Tuesday’s Paris-Vincennes featured Prix de Pont-Audemar (purse 53,000€, 2100 meters autostart) saw 1.2/1 Golden Renka (4m Saxo de Vandel-Saskia des Emois) rally to a harnes racing victory for pilot Jean Michel Bazire, Ecurie Ostheimer and trainer J-M Baudouin.   The winner was clocked in 1.12.6kr as he won for the fourth time in 16 career starts, now for 108,190€ earned. 4.9/1 Gwendolo Bella (4m Booster Winner) was second for owner/trainer/driver Christophe Feyte and 5.4/1 Genet de Boitron (4g Ubriaco) took third with owner/trainer Franck Anne aboard.   Racing action returned on the weekend (January 19) at Madinina Martinique with the Prix de la Societe des Courses de Madinina (purse 5,000€, 2600 meters on the turf, distance handicap) and victory went to Beautiful Atout (9g Roc Meslois-Saga d’Atour) with owner/trainer Alexandre Faivre aboard. The winner recorded his first win in Martinique and first career victory now for 62,280€ earned. Bavarois Varlet and Boycott trained the winner, these two handicapped 50 and 25 meters.   Beautiful Atout On the Madinina card was also the Prix Claude Cayol (purse 5,000€, 2600 meters distance handicap on the turf) saw 25 meter handicapped Ussein Royal (12g Lilium Madrik-Heloire) score in 1.20.3kr for J.F. Gate, his third win in the last four starts and 13 th in his career, now for 83,160€ in life earnings. 25 meter penalized Unoki and non-penalized Avais Contraire trailed the winner to the line in a driving finish.   Thomas H. Hicks

Paris, France – Not a lot of people can really say in Paris that they know nothing about the Prix d’Amerique race this Sunday at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. It’s on nearly every major street pole intersection throughout this wonderful city. Big, bold and beautiful, a harness racing horse draped in the colors of the American flag. Every year the Prix d’Amerique is the richest race in the world for old trotters, only this year the prestigious event is even bigger as it is the 100th anniversary of this spectacular day of racing. The Grand Prix d’Amerique was created to pay homage to the Americans for the help which they gave to France during the First World War. And every year the French go all out in this special day as a tribute to America. The race card will have 11 races, most of them held in early on. Then it’s parade time with perhaps the greatest display of tribute to America taking place on the track. The drivers are brought in on Harley-Davidson antique motorcycles, stilt-walkers dressed in the Stars and Stripes, the prestigious French Lancers Brigade on horseback and much more will take place. And then there is the actual Prix d’Amerique race. There will be 18 of the world’s top older trotters and sadly no representation from North America this year. These horses will go from a standing start and race 2,700 meters (1.67 miles), up and down a slight hill on the course at breakneck speeds. And, they will be racing for total prize money of 900,000€ euros ($1 million dollars US depending on exchange rate). On the betting side, around $40 million euros ($44.3 million US) will be wagered on Sunday. There will be 40,000 plus people coming out to the racetrack to view the race and all the special festivities that day and approximately 36 countries will broadcast the race on four different continents. It’s a big deal to say the least. And what about the horses that have entered the race. The return winner from last year, Belina Josselyn, is back. She is one of only a handful of mares who will be taking on their male counterparts in the Prix d’Amerique. Jean-Michel Bazire trains and drives Belina Josselyn, who comes into the race off a very impressive triumph two weeks ago in the Grand Prix of Belgium at Paris-Vincennes. The nine-year-old mare by Love You is a career winner of 2,335,470€. Other world class champion trotters in the race include two-time Prix d’Amerique winner, Bold Eagle, who back in October 2019 traveled to Canada and won the Breeders Crown at Mohawk Park; 3.1 million euro winner Propulsion is shipping in from Sweden; 2018 Elitloppet winner Ringostarr Treb will be in the race for trainer Jerry Riordan, Face Time Bourbon, Beillie de Montford and a host of other top flight trotters will be in the race. Also, this week Harnesslink will be reporting from the world class training facility, Grosbois, plus coverage of the horse sale Thursday and Friday, the Standardbred Expo Friday and the superb race cards this Saturday and Sunday at the Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes. It’s been sunny and around 40 in Paris as we toured the wonderful city a bit after landing this morning. There is a possible forecast of rain showers on Sunday and it is hopeful that will change later this week. Our hotel, the Pullman in Bercy Centre, is sold out this weekend as are other hotels in the area as the hype begins to build for the big race day on Sunday. Here are the leading 25 horses for the Prix d'Amerique. This number will get reduced to 18, By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

January 19, 2020 - Saturday’s Cornulier harness racing program at Vincennes included several other groupe level races and some other interesting events. The Prix Roxane Griff (monte, purse 50,000€, 2175 meters, nine starters) began the “interesting” action with a quick 1.11kr clocked victory by 9/10 favorite Egao Jenilou (6g Village Mystic-Queen Jenilou) with Eric Raffin aboard for trainer Louis Baudron. He won for the ninth time in 26 career starts now for 272,460€ earned. 7/2 Dede de Montauren and 9/1 Daniel Bon trailed the winner to the line. The first groupe test was the Prix Bellino II (Gr. III, purse 80,000€, 2100 meters, 11 starters) and 5.5/1 Gimy du Pommereux (4m Coktail Jet-Noune du Pommereux) scored for Matthieu Abrivard, trainer Sylvain Roger and owner Noel Lolic. The victory was his fourth in 12 career starts now for 132,810 in life earnings. 18/1 Gia Olmenhof (4f Ready Cash) rallied for second for Christophe Martens and 2/1 Girolamo (4m Uriel Speed) took third for Franck Ouvrie. Gimy du Pommereux The 80,000€ purse Prix de Mirande (Gr. III, 2700 meters, eight five year old starters) produced a 1.12kr timed victory for 3/2 odds Fire Cracker (5g Quaro-Urganza) for Eric Raffin at the lines for trainer Gregory Thorel. He scored for the eighth time in 24 appearances for career earnings of 191,200€. 1.1/1 favorite Fairplay d’Urzy (5m Ready Cash) and driver Jean Michel Bazire was second and 6/1 Foxtrot Sea (5m Olitro) was third for Cedrik Megissier. Fire Cracker The Gr. III Prix Michel Marcel Gougeon (purse 90,000€, 2850 meters, nine starters) saw 3.2/1 Eliot d’Ambri (6g Tipunch River-Rivale du Raleis) score for the hot teamster Eric Raffin. Race time was 1.14.9kr as the winner increased his career earnings to 196,380€. 2.8/1 Eclat de Gloire (6g Tiego d’Etang) was second for Loris Garcia and 10/1 Éclair du Mirel (6m Orlando Vici) and pilot Matthieu Abrivard took third money. Eliot d’Ambri Monte action resumed in the Prix Camille de Wazieres (Gr. II, purse 100,000€, 2175 meters, eight starters). 5.6/1 Gospel Pat (4m Uriel Speed-Namorosa) scored timed in 1.12.9kr for jockey David Thomain and trainer Philippe Allaire. This was his fifth career victory in 16 outings now for 174,050€ earned. 6.5/1 Gef de Play (4m Gazouillis) was second with Adrien Lamy in the irons for owner/trainer Franck Leblanc. 5.1/1 Gainsborough (4m Bird Parker) took third with Yoann Lebourgeois up. Gospel Pat   Thomas H. Hicks  

The 5/10 favorite Bilibili (9m Niky-Quetty du Donjon) stalked the leaders and wore them down in late stretch to win the Prix de Cornulier (Gr. I International Monte, purse 650,000€ 2700 meters, 16 starters) for jockey Alexandre Abrivard clocked in 1.12.1kr off even fractions. Laurent Claude Abrivard trains the winner for breeder/owner Jean Pierre Barjon as Bilibili repeated his 2019 victory and now has 14 career wins in 45 starts for 1,803,100€ earned. Roxane Grif was also a repeat winner in recent years (2015-16). The 17/1 Etoile e Bruyere (6f Kenor de Cosse) held second for Adrien Lamy and trainer Charles Dreux. Third was 14/1 Feeling Cash (5m Ready Cash-Royale Star) with Eric Raffin in the irons for trainer Philippe Allaire and owner Carlos Lerner. The 75/1 Carla du Castelets and 31/1 Evangelina Blue completed the top five. The exact order Quinte+ top five payoff was 9.905.60 to 174 ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 5,808.430€ and over 11,937,000€ was wagered on the race.  To watch the replay, click here. The time of the race in kilometers was 1'12''1, which did not break last year’s record of 1'11''2, but it was still the 4th best time in the history of the race. Alexandre Abrivard signs a third victory in the Grand Prix de Cornulier, twenty days after being crowned Etrier d'Or for the second time. His trainer Laurent-Claude Abrivard won for the second time with the developer costume (he also won it as a jockey). For owner-breeder Jean-Pierre Barjon, this is a new triumph in one of the two biggest winter races at Paris-Vincennes, he too who saw his colors shine in the Grand Prix d'Amérique with Meaulnes of Corta . The Grand Prix d'Amérique whose 2020 edition is also on the horizon for next week. This time, the father and son Abrivards will be gathered around Excellent , winner of the Ténor de Baune Prize and candidate for the first places. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Top groupe level action at Paris-Vincennes began this day with the Gr. II Prix de Pardieu (purse 100,000€, monte, 2175 meters, four year olds) and 14/1 Girly Beco (4f Tiego d’Etang-Verveine Gede) scored 1.12.7kr for jockey Guillaume Martin and trainer Michel Bezier. Herve Guain is the owner/breeder. The 26/1 Gloria Berry (4f Quaker Jet-Tequila Berry) was second with J.Y. Ricart in the irons for owner/trainer Jean Michel Bazire and 2.4/1 Gladys des Plaines (4f Opus Viervil) held third with Eric Raffin up. The co-feature this day was the Gr. III Prix de Brest (purse 90,000€, 2850 meters distance handicap, European) with the outstanding victory to 50 meter handicapped and 4/10 favorite Cleangame (8g Ouragon de Celland-Red Bell) reined by trainer Jean Michel Bazire for owner J-M Rancoule. Cleangame was clocked in a quick 1.11.2kr to record his 33rd victory in 50 career starts, now for 1,269,720€ earned. He stormed home from far back to engage the leaders early in the lane in a furious finish to then hold off 20/1 and 25 meter handicapped Anzi des Liards (10g Look de Star) with Romain Derieux up. The 32/1 Ble du Gers (9g Quinoa du Gers) held third for Nicolas Bazire, trainer Jean Michel and owner Rancoule. 61/1 Carly Loulou (8f Gazouillis) and 89.1 Usain Henna (10m Super Light) completed the top five this Quinte+ event. The exact order Q+ payoff was 24,212.60€ to 42 winning ticketholders with the Q+ pool reaching 4,283,257€ and over 9,239,000€ was wagered on the race. Cleangame The Prix de Pornichet (purse 67,000€, monte, 2700 meters) saw 8.4/1 Bleu Ciel (9g Milord Drill-Quelle Action) win for Adrien Lamy and trainer Jean Morice timed in 1.12.8kr. The winner earned his 15th career victory in 90 starts now for 378,110€ earned. 5,8/1 Boston Terrie (9g Kesaco Phedo) was second ahead of 6.4/1 Cesar de Vrie (8g Magnificent Rodney). Bleu Ciel Sunday the monte champions will contest the Gr. I Prix de Cornulier for a total purse of 650,000€ and we will see if the 2019 winner Bilibili can repeat. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink  

Hungary’s National Trotting Breeders' Association continues its training series, which was launched in 2018, on January 28, 2020 (10:30 am at Kincsem Park), when a world-recognized harness racing breeder and executive, Dr. Paul F. ’’Pete” Spears, will direct our further training. Dr. Spears is President of the Standardbred Horse Sales Company, that conducts an annual early November auction in Harrisburg, PA ((USA), and formerly Vice President of Hanover Shoe Farms, practically growing up there, as his father worked as President and Treasurer of that world renown breeding facility. Dr. Spears has been very active in trot racing and breeding for several decades (his family’s Windsong Stable bred Hambletonian winner Windsong’s Legacy among many stakes winners), and his main expertise is genetics, pedigree analysis and auctions. Standardbred Horse Sales Company In his lecture, Dr. Spears will present examples of the possibility of pairing on related breeding and line breeding issues. He gives his opinion on the x-position and talks about the correct decisions that affect the effectiveness of breeding. There's great interest in this event. In view of this, please indicate your intention to participate by e-mail ( as soon as possible. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

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