Flamme du Goutier again wins the world’s greatest monté race
Plus, the draw is complete for Sunday’s Prix d’Amerique.
by Thomas Hedlund
Just as in 2022’s edition of $755,000 Prix de Cornulier for trotters under saddle, Thierry Duvaldestin-trained Flamme du Goutier proved to be the best horse in the world’s greatest monté race.
Flamme du Goutier was, besides two other mares, Granvillaise Bleue and Hanna des Molles, the favorite to win Prix de Cornulier 2023 and her jockey Mathieu Mottier made no mistakes in the hunt for the second win in a row in the race.
Mottier saved power throughout the road to victory and when he made a serious attack in the end of the last turn, the three top mares were the ones that battled for the prestigious win. Granvillaise Bleue seemed to get herself in an advantage position as the stretch approached, but her first kilometer three wide left its mark and instead, Flamme du Goutier sprinted with good speed on the outside. Hanna des Molles’ try on the inside wasn’t good enough and the title defender claimed the big win in a mile rate of 1:55 over 1.6 miles.
Granvillaise Bleue was the runner up and Hanna des Molles third.
Flamme du Goutier will continue her winter meeting just as she did last season, with a participation in Prix d’Amérique one week later and she has all possibilities to improve her result from 2022, when she finished third behind Davidson du Pont and Galius.
THE DRAW FOR SUNDAY’S PRIX D’AMERIQUE
Here’s the draw for Sunday’s Prix d’Amerique, which will start at 4:25 p.m. (Paris time) or 10:25 a.m. ET.
2023 PRIX D’AMÉRIQUE
Horse – Driver – Trainer
1. Hip Hop Haufor – Christian Bigeon
2. Horsy Dream – Eric Raffin – Pierre Belloche
3. Hussard du Landret – Benoit Robin
4. Ampia Mede Sm – Franck Nivard – Fabrice Souloy
5. Decoloration – Gabriele Gelormini – Jean-Michel Baudouin
6. Idao de Tillard – Clément Duvaldestin – Thierry Duvaldestin
7. Honey Mearas – Örjan Kihlström – Daniel Redén
8. Italiano Vero – David Thomain – Philippe Allaire
9. Hooker Berry – Jean-Michel Bazire
10. Moni Viking – Björn Goop
11. Hohneck – Francois Lagadeuc – Philippe Allaire
12. Vernissage Grif – Alessandro Gocciadoro
13. Don Fanucci Zet – Yoann Lebourgeois – Daniel Redén
14. Flamme du Goutier – Théo Duvaldestin – Thierry Duvaldestin
15. Cokstile – Vincenzo P Dell’Annunziata – Gennaro Casillo
16. Delia du Pommereux – Pierre-Yves Verva – Sylvain Roger
17. Etonnant – Anthony Barrier – Richard Westerink
18. Vivid Wise As – Matthieu Abrivard – Alessandro Gocciadoro
Program for Saturday’s races at Vincennes
Program for Sunday’s races at Vincennes
WHAT TO EXPECT IN SUNDAY’S BIG RACE
Anyone can win, basically, when France’s biggest harness racing event is held this Sunday (Jan. 29). This year’s $1,075,000 Prix d’Amérique seems to be one of the most open editions of the race in many years, especially since Calgary Games disappeared from the race and Etonnant have been sick after his last performance in Paris.
Five-year-old Idao de Tillard (Severino) has become the bettors’ favorite, with just a few days left before the race is held and it may seem unfair to put such a pressure on a relatively inexperienced trotter such as Idao de Tillard. On the other hand, Thierry Duvaldestin’s horse has really impressed, both as a 3- and 4-year-old, and now as an older trotter. By all means, Idao de Tillard hasn’t faced 17 trotters with Prix d’Amérique-status before, but the 5-year-old has made an impression in his last starts.
Still, allow us to doubt about Idao de Tillard’s probable favorite position in the Prix d’Amérique. His driver, Clément Duvaldestin, makes few mistakes behind his horse. There lays a trust between horse and driver in every start they make together. But, to be fair, Clément isn’t one of Vincennes’ most entrusted drivers at all and to win the Prix d’Amérique, a perfect drive throughout the race will be needed.
Duvaldestin has two horses in the race: Prix de Cornulier winner Flamme du Goutier will join stablemate Idao de Tillard when the 18 horses gather for the start and Duvaldestin knows how to prepare a horse for a perfect performance in the race. Duvaldestin trained Ready Cash when he won the Prix d’Amérique in 2011 and 2012.
”There are many differences between Ready Cash and Idao de Tillard. Ready Cash was already an established star when he came to my stable, while I’ve shaped Idao de Tillard since he was young. For me, it means nothing that Idao de Tillard is one of the favorites on Sunday. The most important is that I do what I can to present him in as good shape as possible. Idao de Tillard is not, unlike Ready Cash, a horse that you just go out and win Prix d’Amérique with. As I see it, my horse needs a perfect trip to win the race,” said Duvaldestin in an article in Swedish harness racing media Sulkysport.se.
Idao de Tillard has 18 wins in 25 start so far in his career and is absolutely a serious factor in Sunday’s race, but there are 17 challengers that will be very well prepared for the task.
Italian top trainer Alessandro Gocciadoro will travel to Paris with two Prix d’Amérique contenders. Well known and well merited Vivid Wise As (Yankee Glide) will try the big race for the fourth time and he can look back at his best performance in Prix d’Amérique last year, when he finished fourth. Question marks surrounds Vivid Wise As after his last start at Vincennes in the $125,000 Prix du Bourbonnais on Dec. 11, where he made a second-rate performance and probably was reduced by sickness.
Vernissage Grif (Varenne) is Gocciadoro’s second weapon in the Prix d’Amérique this year and the charismatic, chestnut colored trotter can very well post a big upset in the race. The 9-year-old Italian bred horse has shown great strength and qualities at several occasions, but Vincennes is a little bit of a mystery for him. Vernissage Grif may lack experience in racing the big track of Vincennes, even if he has tried in two of the preparation races ahead of the big event. In the $125,000 Prix de Belgique on Jan. 15, Vernissage Grif was served an inside trip by his trainer and he might have some use of the nice trip on Sunday.
A little bit from out of nowhere, Daniel Redén decided to enter the Prix d’Amérique with two horses. His 6-year-old mare Honey Mearas (Readly Express) tried Vincennes in the $215,000 Prix Tenor de Baune on Dec. 24, but she wasn’t ready for that day and Redén has prepared the mare for Prix d’Amérique in the time between. Alongside Honey Mearas, Elitloppet winner Don Fanucci Zet has acted as a training buddy during the past month and something good must have happened with the 7-year-old Hard Livin son. On Thursday (Jan. 19) Daniel Redén announced that he will go for it with both horses and it’s really interesting to see how he has managed to prepare Don Fanucci Zet for a task like this. His latest performance was in the Swedish Championship at Åby on Oct. 8 last year. Normally, races against these kind of competitors are needed, but Redén leaves Sweden with confidence.
”It will be a pleasant journey more than anything else. If we go home with two zeros, so be it. The world will spin on the next day regardless the outcome in the Prix d’Amérique and I feel that my horses are ready to at least enter the race with chances to grab some money if we are lucky with the trips,” said Redén.
What about the horses that qualified for Prix d’Amérique via the four B-races and the two races on Christmas Eve?
Well, Hip Hop Haufor, who claimed the $125,000 Prix de Bretagne, has been carefully driven in the races afterwards and trainer Christian Bigeon will probably peak his horse’s form on Sunday, but still, Hip Hop Haufor will not get the bettor’s trust.
The $125,000 Prix du Bourbonnais winner Hooker Berry, trained and driven by Jean-Michel Bazire, is my favorite to win the Prix d’Amérique this year. Hooker Berry tolerates tough trips if necessary and Bazire is the most merited driver in the Prix d’Amérique field. He knows how to win at Vincennes and especially when the purses are high.
Delia du Pommereux won the $125,000 Prix du Bourgogne in track record at Vincennes on Jan. 1, but the races old lady will face a tough objective on Sunday.
The $125,000 Prix de Belgique winner Horsy Dream, trained by Pierre Belloche and driven by Eric Raffin, will probably be one of the favorites, with all rights since he has impressed both in the Prix de Belgique and in his victory in the $215,000 Prix Tenor de Baune. A strong 6-year-old trotter that will be a threat to all the rest.
HRU will be back with more information about the Prix d’Amérique in Sunday’s edition, where we also will report from Vincennes’ Saturday race card.