by Thomas Hedlund
The $333,000 Gran Premio delle Nazioni was held in Milan, Italy on Monday (Dec. 7) and in a strong field with several top trotters competing, a mare with super powers proved best.
Sébastien Guarato trained Billie de Montfort (Jasmin de Flore), paired with Gabriele Gelormini, burst past strong opponents at the top of the stretch and went on to a safe win in a mile rate of 1:56 over 1.3 miles.
Leader Zacon Gio had to use the highest gears reaching the front position and when first over trotter Vivid Wise As put hard pressure on the leader at the back stretch, Zacon Gio had to capitulate before the last turn.
And Vivid Wise As couldn’t defend himself when Billie de Montfort attacked from second over in the last turn, so the home stretch became a safe trip to victory for Sébastien Guarato’s 9-year-old top trotter. Chief Orlando finished strongly as runner up ahead of Volokaja Hindö.
This was Billie de Montfort’s first win in 2020. In 2019, she noted three victories, among them a quite surprising win in Prix d’Amérique preparation race $125,000 Prix de Bourgogne.
Billie de Montfort has in some way lived her life in the shadows behind other more merited horses in the French ”B-crop”. Stablemate Bold Eagle dominated the sport during a long period and the French crop born in 2011 is something special with horses such as Bird Parker, Belina Josselyn, Brillantissime and Bahia Quesnot. There is no doubt that Billie de Montfort belongs in top when the best horses in history are named and her $2,828,000 in earnings puts her in third place in the league of richest mares in France. Only Roxane Griff ($3,761,812) and Belina Josselyn ($3,170,300) are ahead of Billie de Montfort at this point.
Superior winner in Paris
The $133,150 Grand National du Trot Final at Vincennes on Sunday (Dec. 6) contained a field of French-bred trotters who had qualified to the race via several local events at several different racetracks during the year. Jean-Michel Bazire trains and drives the horse that became the first choice in the race.
Bazire has become the master of the Grand National du Trot. He has trained the winners in the last four finals (Aubrion du Gers 2016, Bel Avis 2017, Ble du Gers 2018 and Cleangame 2019) and when the drama was over on Sunday afternoon, the trainer another trophy from the prestigious race.
Elie de Beaufor (Royal Dream) came to the final after two wins in the $90,000 Grand National du Trot series and the 6-year-old gelding was outstanding at Vincennes racetrack. Jean-Michel Bazire couldn’t possibly count on victory 100 meters into the race in this year’s edition. Elie de Beaufor went off stride immediately when the horses left, which resulted in, at least, 60 meters handicap to the horses in front of the field, but when Bazire got contact with his opponents, the tactic was clear. An optimistic Bazire followed three wide with a little less than a mile to go and in the last turn, Elie de Beaufor could rest for a moment in second over, before the final attack was set at the top of the stretch. Elie de Beaufor disarmed horses on the inside and this was a very impressive performance in Paris. The mile rate was 1:56.4 over 1.7 miles and Elie de Beaufor has to be the number one target for many sports managers on tracks around Europe. Since Elie de Beaufor is a gelding, he is excluded from the big Grand Prix races in Paris during the meeting and Bazire has taken his shot with horses such as Aubrion du Gers in other countries than France previous years.
Sixteen horses in second B-race
The $115,000 Prix du Bourbonnais is scheduled at Vincennes racetrack in Paris on Sunday (Dec. 13) and 16 horses take their chance to reach a spot in Prix d’Amérique 2021.
Diable de Vauvert, Feliciano and Bahia Quesnot secured their Prix d’Amérique spots, respectively, when the $115,000 Prix de Bretagne was held on Nov. 22 and none of those three horses will enter Sunday’s race at Vincennes.
Sébastien Guarato’s super trotter Face Time Bourbon, title defender in the Prix d’Amérique, will contest the Prix du Bourbonnais on Sunday and he will be the heavy favorite in the race, but the 5-year-old Ready Cash son is basically already ready for Prix d’Amérique, since his earnings are enough to be one of 18 contenders on Jan. 31.
Eighteen trotters could have entered the race on Sunday, but only 16 will gather around the big, black track of Vincennes in the afternoon.
Prix du Bourbonnais 2020
Horse – Driver
1. Hudson River – Alexis Prat
2. Valzer di Poggio – Jean-Michel Bazire
3. Victor Ferm – Alexandre Abrivard
4. Jerry Mom – Gabriele Gelormini
5. Fakir du Lorault – Francois Lecanu
6. Frisbee d’Am – Anthony Barrier
7. Moni Viking – Matthieu Abrivard
8. Activated – Franck Ouvrie
9. Drole de Jet – Pierre Vercruysse
10. Chica de Joudes – Alain Laurent
11. Delia du Pommereux – Franck Nivard
12. Erminig d’Oliverie – Eric Raffin
13. Carat Williams – Yoann Lebourgeois
14. Davidson du Pont – Nicolas Bazire
15. Bilibili – Laurent Claude Abrivard
16. Face Time Bourbon – Björn Goop