This week's news-in-brief includes notable winners in the US and the far East, a possible overseas contender for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and news of the first European G1 trotting event of the year outside of France…
Marc Lerner, son of trainer Carlos, rode two winners at Kanji on Saturday to lead the Singapore jockeys' standings. The 2012 French champion apprentice has eleven victories so far this term, two wins ahead of compatriot Louis-Philippe Beuzelin, who also scored on the weekend.
In Japan, Christophe Lemaire holds a ten-win lead over Kohei Matsuyama in the jockeys' standings following a double at Nakayama on Sunday, reaching 52 victories for the season.
Flavien Prat is riding the crest of a wave in the US currently. The Frenchman rode his 68th winner this campaign after successes from six mounts at Santa Anita last Friday. This has already been a stellar season after reaching a milestone 1,000 winners in the US since arriving in 2015.
In Kentucky, Florent Géroux rode four winners at Turfway Park, including success aboard Adventuring (Pioneerofthenile) in the Listed Bourbonette Oaks (1600m). She put a marker down for a possible tilt at the G1 Kentucky Oaks (1800m) at Churchill Downs in May.
At Gulfstream Park, Julien Leparoux triumphed in three races, with notable success in two graded races. In addition to landing the G3 Orchid Stakes (2200m) with War Like Goddess (English Channel), he produced a masterful front-running ride aboard Churn N Burn (Liam's Map) in the G2 Pan American Stakes (2400m).
Dubai World Cup Meeting
At the Dubai World Cup meeting last weekend, there was a notable French success in the opening race, the G1 Dubai Kahayla Classic (2000m) for pure-Arabian breds. Deryan (Mahabb) proved to be an easy winner for trainer Didier Guillemin under an ultra-confident ride from Ioritz Mendizabel. Michaëlle Michel delivered a strong performance to finish second on Walderbe (Maxios) in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m). Michael Barzalona provided a brace of placings aboard Panadol (Flatter) in the G2 UAE Derby (1900m) and Vin de Garde (Deep Impact) in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m).
Gran Premio Costa Azzurra
The first G1 trotting event of the year in Europe, to be held outside France, will be staged at Turin on Sunday. The G1 Gran Premio Costa Azzurra (1600m) is an auto-start with fourteen set to line-up with nine G1 winners in the contest, including three French candidates – Billie de Montfort (Jasmin de Flore), Bahia Quesnot (Scipion du Goutier) and Elsa de Belfonds (Tornado Bello). Bahia Quesnot and Billie de Montfort are real French trotting superstars. The ten-year-old mares were both successful in G1 events in Italy last year and will be suited to the speed test on the weekend. Third and fourth from last season's renewal, Virtuvio (Adrian Chip) and recent G1 Grand Critérium de Vitesse de la Côte d'Azur (1609m) winner Vivid Wise As (Yankee Glide) will provide the home team with a strong hand in the race.
Trainer and driver Thierry Duvaldestin boasts a superb strike-rate with his 'I' (3-year-old) runners in 2021. He has trained 21 winners from 46 races, with a 67% success on the podium. The trainer achieved G1 success throughout Vincennes winter meeting - notably with G1 Prix Comte Pierre de Montesson (2700m), more commonly known as the Critérium des Jeunes, winner In The Money (Cristal Money) and mounted G1 Prix de I'lle-de-France (2175m) scorer Flamme du Goutier (Ready Cash).
Trotting apprentice Enzo Coniglio registered his first career victory at Rambouillet last Sunday for trainer Sébastien Tribourdeau, aboard Fred de Toune (Rockfella Center). His best finish prior to this landmark victory was runner-up last July and has reached the frame five times previously.
Ce Retour d'Oscar
Ce Retour d'Oscar (Le Retour) triumphed in the Critérium de Trot de Lyon (2850m) at Lyon-Parilly racecourse last Sunday and in so doing, the Ludovic Guitton-trained nine-year-old equalled the course record with a kilometre rating of 1'13"6.
The 21st edition of the Trophy Vert series will commence in the south-east on Sunday (April 4), at Avignon racecourse. The traditional event takes place over fourteen fixtures until September 5, with the competition staged across the whole of the country, for trotting turf specialists. The Group Three final will be held at Craon in early September.
Verry Elleegant (Zed) showed a tenacious attitude to fend off last season's winner of the G1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) on soft ground at Rosehill in the 2021 renewal. Trainer Chris Waller has indicated that the lofty target this campaign could be to head to Europe for the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp in the autumn.
Twice flat winner Huflower (Saddex) has been bought via broker Joffret Huet to be trained in the UK by Paul Nicholls. His previous handler, Adrien Fouassier, confirmed the youngster has left Sennonnes and already been schooled over hurdles.
Cash Equity (Toronado) has two options for his next race following an encouraging runner-up behind impressive Listed Prix François Mathet (2100m) winner Pretty Tiger (Sea The Moon). The Ludovic Gadbin-trained three-year-old could be sent to the G2 Prix Greffulhe (2000m) at Saint-Cloud in May or take the route of the Listed Prix de Suresnes (2000m) at Deauville, before a tilt at the G1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m) at Chantilly.
French import Skyward (Camelot) made his return to action on seasonal return at Bendigo in Australia last week finishing downfield. The intention is to aim at a 1600m handicap at Caulfield next, providing the ground is not too soft.
Call The Wind
Freddy Head gave an update on a stable star Call The Wind (Frankel) – who was below-par when defending his title in the Red Sea Turf Handicap (3000m) at Riyadh in February – is likely to wait until this summer for his next participation. The G1 Ascot Gold Cup would be a lofty target for now (4014m).
New trainer, Thomas Viel, gained his first victory at Loudéac on Sunday as Lux de la Barre scored in a 4200m chase. His brother, Guillaume took the ride on the Marina Busteau-owned son of Epalo.