Jumps Season - At The Races

Jumpers in France

    Liz Price has nominated a dozen to follow in France in the months ahead.
  • Features

Unlike the UK and Irish National season that starts at the end of the year and finishes in the spring of the following year, in France, the Jumps season runs with the calendar year.

However, in order to avoid the dry ground in the summer, the main events that are scheduled at Auteuil, France’s premier jump course that lies in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, either take place in October and November or in the spring, between May and June.

From December to early January, a lot of jumpers travel down South to Cagnes-sur-Mer, which is a stunning racecourse right on the French riviera, only a few minutes down the road from Nice, whilst others prefer to go to Pau, which is situated at the bottom of the Pyrenees.

In the summer, those horses that have targeted races like the Grade 1 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, have a bit of a rest, while others move to Deauville, where they run at the picturesque and very family-orientated Clairefontaine racecourse, which is only ten minutes down the road from the Deauville-La-Touques racecourse.

The 2018 summer came with hot temperatures and hardly any rain and many trainers, regardless if they are based at Maisons-Laffitte, Chantilly, Lamorlaye, Pau or in any of the many private training centres, struggled to keep their horses from feeling the effects of galloping and jumping on the much harder ground.

Hence, whilst disappointing, it is not really a surprise that many of France’s superstars are currently out of action due to injuries.

The likes of On The Go, the winner of the 2018 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, as well as runner-up Perfect Impulse are both injured and won’t return to the tracks this season. Alex de Larredya, who finished fifth to Unowhatimeanharry in the 2016 edition of the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, but who since beat Device in the Grade 1 Grand Prix d’Automne, is also out, as is Device and the brilliant mare De Bon Coeur, the winner of the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil where she beat Bapaume by sixteen lengths.

The good news though is that there are plenty of young, promising horses that are coming through the ranks, which are sure to light up Auteuil during the coming months - the pick of which are listed below.

Horse profiles

Beaumec De Houelle

Trained by Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé, Beaumec de Houelle was really only two-years-old when he made his winning debut at the beginning of April at Auteuil. He then had another start in the Prix Le Parisien over 2m 1 ½ f, which he also won, but when he stepped up in class in the Grade 3 Prix Aguado, he was beaten into third place. Having said that, I think he was just a bit tired and maybe the drying ground didn’t work in his favour either that day. In any case, when he came back after a three months break, he beat Porto Pollo, the same horse that beat him in the Grade 3, convincingly by two and a half lengths in the Listed Prix Robert Lejeune. I think he is a very nice colt with a big future. Mentally he seems very mature and the softer the ground, the better. The Grade 1 Prix Cambaceres is his likely target.

Video Form
4 Nov 2018:

Bipolaire

Trained by Francois Nicolle, Bipolaire is one of the most consistent performers at Auteuil. He is hardly ever out of the first three and rarer still are his mistakes. He was seriously unlucky when he fell at the first in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris in May and connections are hoping that he can redeem himself by defending his title in the 3m3 ½ f Grade 1 Prix La Haye Jousselin, the French Gold Cup of the autumn. He is what the French call a AQPS and what we call a French half-bred if I’m not mistaken. He has had a few physical issues when he was younger, but he has really come into his own and always enjoys a really good second half of the season. He has already made a winning return over hurdles following his summer break and as he is still improving, he is the horse to watch out for in the Prix Héros XII and the Prix La Haye Jousselin.

Video Form
19 May 2019:
6 Apr 2019:
9 Mar 2019:
4 Nov 2018:
10 Oct 2018:

Crystal Beach

Trained by Marcel Rolland, Crystal Beach, also an AQPS, made a huge impression when he won the 2m5 ½ f Prix Laniste at Auteuil last month. This was a first attempt over fences for this very lightly raced gelding, who is, it has to be said, a bit fragile. In fact, he only had one start as a four-year-old and one as a five-year-old. This season though, he seems to have overcome his issues and is improving from start to start. After winning the Prix d’Aumale at Compiègne, which is a racecourse situated to the north of Paris, he came third in the Grade 3 Grande Course de Haies de Printemps, before landing a listed in May. As I said, when he was unleashed over the fences he revealed his potential and I think he will now work his way up to the highest level.

Video Form
19 May 2019:
27 Apr 2019:
6 Apr 2019:
24 Mar 2019:
25 Nov 2018:

Galop Marin (IRE)

Trainer Dominique Bressou is looking forward to the autumn with hurdler Galop Marin who recently lifted the extended 2m 3f Grade 3 Prix de Compiegne at Auteuil. Up until now, Galop Marin has always struggled at the highest level where he would meet superstars De Bon Coeur and Alex de Larredya. However, with both of them out of action, he looks like the horse to follow over hurdles this season. His run in the Grade 1 Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, the French Champion Hurdle, was not that inspiring, but then again the winner De Bon Coeur is just in a different stratosphere. His last run where he beat Dalia Grandchamp was much more impressive. In the lead from the start, he controlled the race and victory was never in doubt. He is much more relaxed in his races now and really accelerates. Soft conditions and longer trips will definitely bring out the best in him.

Video Form
18 May 2019:
21 Apr 2019:
24 Mar 2019:
3 Mar 2019:
25 Nov 2018:

Goliath Du Berlais

Trained by Guillaume Macaire, in four starts over the Auteuil hurdles, he never managed to get himself onto the podium, finding either Pic d’Orhy or Porto Pollo too good. However, following a two and a half month break over the summer, he made his debut over the fences and instantly became a winner. He likes to dominate from the front and if his first start over fences was encouraging, his last victory from once more Fantastic Sivola in a conditions race was even more impressive. A good looking individual, he should be going for the Grade 2 Prix Congress now.

Video Form
19 May 2019:
27 Apr 2019:
31 Mar 2019:
9 Mar 2019:
3 Nov 2018:

L'autonomie

Trained by Francois Nicolle, she created quite a stir when she won on her debut in the 2m2f fillies’ race Prix Pelat. Ridden by Thomas Gueguen, she had travelled in the back of the field, which was led by the favourite Vanille du Berlais. When they approached the final bend, Vanille du Berlais had fifteen lengths on her opponents, while L’Autonomie had made progress and was now following her in second position. When they jumped the last hurdle, Vanille du Berlais still had a comfortable lead, but on the flat L’Autonomie produced a serious turn of foot to win this race by two lengths. Her jockey never even pulled out his stick and judging by this performance she looks a serious prospect for the future. Vanille du Berlais by the way will now be looking at a career over fences.

Video Form
9 Jun 2019:
27 Apr 2019:
6 Apr 2019:
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4 Nov 2018:

Listenmania

A niece of Perfect Impulse, the runner-up of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, she has had three starts this season and while she had to accept defeat last time out in the Grade 3 Prix Sagan, she is nevertheless a filly with a great future. In the Prix Sagan, Listenmania had led the field and looked like the winner but then jumped the last hurdle badly, which allowed her pursuer La Griottiere to close on her and beat her by a neck. I would have also listed La Griottiere in my 12 to follow, but she is no longer in training.

Video Form
3 Nov 2018:
10 Oct 2018:

Lou Buck's

Buck’s Boum recorded his first Grade 1 victory as a sire when his son Al Boum Photo lifted the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse. And the Guillaume Macaire-trained four-year-old Lou Buck’s might soon become his second winner at that level as he is being aimed at the Grade 1 Prix Maurice Gillois, a steeple-chase for four-year-olds, which is one of the highlights of the 48 hours jump weekend at Auteuil on the 3rd and 4th November. As a prep race, Lou Buck’s is most likely to take in the Prix Orcada. He has already run six times this year and the only time he was beaten was in the Grade 1 Prix Alain du Breil or the Course de Haies d’Ete des Quatre Ans, as it is known in France. That start though was over hurdles and since he has been let lose over fences we have seen a different animal. He is unbeaten in two starts over fences, recording his last victory in the 2m1 ½ f Prix Henri Gleizes. He is already considered the best of his generation.

Master Dino (FR)

  • 5-y-o; grey gelding
  • Breeding: Doctor Dino - Mind Master (Mizzen Mast)
  • Trained by: G Macaire
  • Last Race: Plumpton, 6 Jan 2019 13:10
  • Result: Won/6, tracked leading pair, clear 2nd at 10th, ridden to challenge going best 2 out, led between last 2, soon quickened clear, impressive
  • View full form

The Guillaume Macaire-trained Master Dino, a half-brother to French winner Mind Story, runs in the colours of Simon Munir, Isaac Souede and D Allard. Very precocious, he had his first start in March last year, only two weeks after his actual birthday. He was really only two years and two weeks old when he made his debut at Auteuil where he finished second in a conditions race. Since then, he has run fourteen times and only once did he finish out of the first three. He won the Grade 1 Prix Cambaceres, the Grande Course de Haies des 3 ans, at the end of last year from his stable companion Tunis, who got his revenge this season when they met in the Group 3 Prix d’Indy and the Group 2 Prix Amadou. However, following a break over the summer, Master Dino has come back stronger than ever and when they met in the Grade 3 Prix Questarabad and in the Group 3 Prix de Maisons-Laffitte in September, he beat Tunis fair and square. Master Dino is a very safe jumper who just pops over the hurdles and doesn’t waste any effort. He has won over 2m2f and also over 2m3 ½ f and is definitely a horse to follow.

Video Form
6 Jan 2019:
30 Nov 2018:
11 Nov 2018:
20 Oct 2018:

Tunis (POL)

When you speak about Master Dino it is impossible not to mention Tunis and vice versa. Twelve times these two horses have met already and while Tunis seemed to have the upper hand over Master Dino last season and even at the beginning of 2018, following the summer break he suddenly seems to be just that little bit weaker than Master Dino. Or maybe Master Dino has simply improved faster than his stable companion. One thing is for sure, both of these colts dominate the four-year-old generation, especially since Wildriver, the winner of the Prix Alain du Breil, the four-year-old Champion hurdle, is currently sidelined. Tunis will now be aimed at the Grade 1 Prix Renaud du Vivier. As he possesses an unusual pedigree, his stallion rights have already been sold.

Video Form
11 Nov 2018:
20 Oct 2018:

Roi Mage

Roi Mage becomes a serious contender in soft to heavy ground. He runs mainly over 2m6f, even though they did run him in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris where he was unfortunately brought down, but where the quicker ground would anyway not have been in his favour. He is Grade 1 placed and always a horse to watch for in the final phase of the race as he is a good finisher, but the big events have so far eluded him. However, this year, his trainer has changed tactics and has run him at Compiegne where he recently won the Listed Chase Prix de la Gascogne. His big goal now is the Grand Steeple-Chase de Compiègne and following that last start on this wide sweeping track, I would not be surprised if he won it.

Video Form
19 May 2019:
5 May 2019:
3 Mar 2019:
25 Nov 2018:
1 Nov 2018:

Saint Goustan Blue

The most consistent of my 12 to follow. Sporting the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, he has won fourteen races of his eighteen starts and he also has three second and one third-place to his name. Following a successful start at the beginning of the year, where he beat Bipolaire in the Grade 3 Prix Robert de Clermont-Tonnerre chase, he then suffered from a bone disorder, which meant he wasn’t seen back at Auteuil until September when he picked up where he left of with a victory in the Listed Prix Richard et Robert Hennessy. For a horse that according to his trainer Guillaume Macaire could hardly move in the spring, he has made a remarkable recovery. He is a very brave and honest horse and could be aiming for the Grade 3 Prix Heros XII. If his health problems are really and truly gone, he could become the star of the autumn.

Video Form
2 Jul 2019:
27 Apr 2019:
16 Mar 2019:
25 Nov 2018:
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