A 25% share is still available of our EXOSPHERE yearling out of Risque de Verlas, a stakes-winning Verglas mare. This gelding, eligible for French premiums, is from a winning family, and he’s a half-brother to our own Ray of Hope, who has won seven times with earnings of over 200,000 euros.
The price of the share is 10,500 euros, which includes his gelding and boarding costs through the end of December. We expect him to be ready to run around September 2020.
Quiet Zain (Youmzain out of a Sulamani mare), a six-year-old two-time Quinte winner, carries Bryan Gusdal’s colors. Effective on any ground or surface, QZ is a bulldozer of a horse who runs 2,400 meters and possibly longer. He will make his Cagnes debut on either Jan. 14 or Jan. 18.
Pantomime (Mastercraftsman out of a Green Desert mare), now eight years old, runs for Paul Philippeau, Brian Dunn, Kay Minton and Roger Straus. She’s a big grey mare who runs from the front and wants either top of the ground or fibersand. Can run anything from 2,400 and longer. Nicely placed at 28 in the handicaps, she’ll start on Jan. 20.
Ray of Hope (Layman out of a Verglas mare) loves Cagnes, and at age 10, he’ll be having his final season in the sun. Ray has won five handicaps in Cagnes sur Mer and if he wins one more, he’ll hold the record! He’s ready to go for it! He’s a great horse and he certainly isn’t showing his age. He is a specialist at 2,000 meters on the fibersand. He carries a 28.5 rating into the meeting and will start on Jan. 21.
Dubai Empire (Motivator out of a Langfuhr mare) runs for Bryan Gusdal. An impressive big chestnut, Dubai is a lovely horse and has run some great races for us but hasn’t managed to win yet! We’re expecting to remedy that situation in Cagnes, because he’s in great form and should easily be able to run to his rating of 32. Best on the fibersand at 2,400 meters and maybe more, his first outing is Jan. 29.
Folle Passion (Motivator out of a Dashing Blade mare) carries the silks of Susanne Born. Another impressive big chestnut, Passion is another distance specialist, happy from 2,000 meters on up. He likes heavy turf but can also handle the fibersand, and is nicely placed in the handicaps at 30.5. His first Cagnes target is Jan. 18.
Aborigene (George Vancouver out of a Johannesburg mare) runs for Jacques Jarnet and Paule Descargues. So far Aborigene has been the little horse that could. He runs on the turf from 2,000 to 2,400 meters and now we’ll have to see if his small size stops him from being effective against older horses. But he has a great attitude and leaves his heart on the track every time, so we’re expecting him to do well. Working off a rating of 29, his first run will be Jan. 23.
El Viso (Camelot our of an Elusive City mare) is owned by Bryan Gusdal and Kay Minton. He seems to have plenty of ability but is a very nervous horse at the track, so hopefully the Cagnes experience will agree with him. He runs 2,000 meters and longer, and we’re still testing his distance limits. He likes to come from behind and loves the fibersand. Fairly rated at 28.5, his first run will be Jan. 18.
Glorious Emaraty (George Vancouver out of a Kheleyf mare) carries Roger Straus’s silks with co-owners Brian Dunn, Kay Minton and Susanne Born. Another horse with plenty of ability who has been reluctant to show it so far, Glorious is our only sprinter in Cagnes this year. That gives him plenty of options on both surfaces at distances from 1,300 to 1,500 meters. His last run in Deauville was promising, and he will debut in Cagnes on Jan. 14 or 15, still working off a prohibitively high rating of 34.5.
Midas Girl (Dabirsim out of a Kodiac mare) will carry Kay Minton’s colors with co-owner Tim Rarick. Her last run in Deauville was impressive as she closed from dead last to finish third in a maiden. She was running sprint distances in England but that was clearly not her sport, despite having speed breeding. We think her distance is 2,000 meters and if she can confirm her Deauville run, she will make money in Cagnes. She is running off an initial rating of 32.5, which is higher than it should be, so will run the claimer on Opening Day, Jan. 13.
Starstruck (Masterstroke out of a Montjeu mare) will carry the colors of Roger Straus and is co-owned by Susanne Born, Brian Dunn and Manuela Groll. She’s been an absolute star in 2019 winning three races for us, but that means she’s coming into Cagnes with a high rating of 34. She’s a gazelle on heavy ground and runs any distance from 2,200 meters on up, the longer the better. She has already beaten older horses, so she comes with solid experience. Her comeback race will be Jan. 18.
Hermano Bello will carry the colors of Manuela Groll and is co-owned by Susanne Born and Francis Gourlier. Hermano will eventually be a long-distance horse but he’ll start out running 2,000 meters in Cagnes and working toward a handicap mark. He’s still a colt, and we’re still learning about him, but we expect him to be able to run on both fibersand and turf surfaces. First outing Jan. 18.
Space Ace will carry the silks of Bryan Gusdal and is co-owned by Roger Straus and David Crompton. We have high hopes for this filly, who will debut for us in Cagnes. She is a winner and placed six times from eight starts in England and is an exciting prospect. We will start her at a distance of 1600 meters (1 mile) and for now, we will keep her on the fibersand. First outing on Jan. 18.
Baylagan (above) ran a solid race to finish 2nd in Clairefontaine. He’s turned a page physically and is turning into a nice horse. Pantomime ran her comeback race and finished only 9th, and then got unlucky with her entry in Deauville falling into the first division rather than the second, so she had to settle for 6 h place. She is a very big mare, and it’s taking a little racing to get her going, but she’ll be back in the money soon.
Poor Aborigene had a horrible time in Le Lion d’Angers. It poured rain the entire day and by post time the track was knee-deep in mud. He didn’t care for it at all and came home without any money and desperately needing a shower.
New claim Radja has joined the team. He’s a four-year-old colt with a solid record behind him who should be effective on the soft ground going into fall. He had a few niggles physically, but hopefully, we’re on the right track with him.
Overall, August has been a slow rebuilding month for us, so we plan to start September with a bang!
The Look Ahead
Lots of action coming up in the next week. Baylagan will
start us off in Chantilly on Saturday, Aug. 31, in a 1600-meter (one-mile)
claimer. He’s been falling nicely in the handicap ratings, so this race should
accomplish two purposes: Bring him down to a rating of 30, which opens doors to
some favorable handicap entries, and see how he handles the longer distance. If
he can stay a mile, we have lots of options.
Dubai Empire is likely to have his comeback race at Longchamp on Sunday, Sept. 1. He’s not quite ready, but we don’t have good entries behind this one so we’ll have to take it and look at it as a race to advance his fitness. We won’t push him but rather see what he will do of his own accord.
On Monday, Sept. 2, we’ll hit the road for Croan, one of our favorite country tracks, with Starstruck and Glorious Emaraty, who will be having his debut for us. Starstruck will hopefully fall into the second division of the Quinte, but that’s not sure yet. We’ll have to take a crack at it even if she’s in the first division because once again, she is in form. If she’s in the second division, she should have a good chance to win. If she’s unlucky to find herself at the bottom of the first division, either she’ll place, or her handicap mark will come down. But she needs to run. Glorious will run a Class 2 conditions race over a distance of 1,350 meters. The objective here is to see how he races; he needs two more races in France to get a handicap mark, and we’d rather not have him too highly rated to start.
Simon’s Smile, our other English acquisition, will debut for us on Thursday, Sept. 4, just up the road at our home track in Maisons-Laffitte. He’ll try a one-mile claimer for jockeys who haven’t won 12 races this year. Aude Duporte will take the ride. We’re looking forward to seeing both of these English horses run.
And Aborigene will be back in action on Thursday, Sept. 5, at Longchamp, where the ground should suit him quite a lot better than the bog at Le Lion d’Angers!
Contact Me For Details
We are going to Tattersalls sale at Newmarket in late October. There we look for horses with French premiums and opportunities to improve. If you or a friend are interested in ownership, please contact me. We offer you the opportunity to buy your own horse or as we say in the yard “take a leg of a horse” which means anywhere from 5% to 50% of the horse. We have owners who like to spread the costs, and new owners are always welcome.
Cagnes-sur-Mer is not that far off. Join us for a day, a week, a fortnight, or the entire six weeks from mid-January to late February on the French Riviera. Many owners and friends are around, and we enjoy days at the races and sightseeing on off days. Cagnes is an American-style racetrack where the horses live at the track so you can hang out in the barn area, meet many owners and other racetrack characters and they have a great restaurant there.
After our two wins in July, August is off to a slow start with Starstruck as our only runner so far this month. She came up short in the Quinte handicap, the victim of a horrible outside draw and ground not to her liking. She has come back fine and we’re looking for another race for her.
A Look at Curent Events
Baylagan and Pantomime will run tomorrow in Clairefontaine. Baylagan is in a 1400-meter claimer and Pantomime runs a 2400-meter conditions race. Baylagan should be in the money, although this race is not his objective. We’d like to see his handicap mark come down another notch so we can have some fun with him without risk of him being bought. Pantomime is having her first race back after a short break. She’ll probably need the race to get fit for her objective, which is Aug. 24 on the main Deauville turf track. She has an outside draw of 12 and we’ll let her run the race she wants. If she makes money, it’s a bonus! Then next Saturday, Aug. 17, Aborigine is likely to head to Le Lion d’Angers to run a 2400-meter handicap there. He’s a solid little horse and it is shaping up to be a good entry.
A Look Ahead
Our two new horses from Newmarket in July are settling in and should be ready to race by the end of August. Both Simon’s Smile and Glorious Emaraty had minor problems to solve, but we seem to be on the right track with them and it will be exciting to get them running for us. Glorious Emaraty’s sire, George Vancouver, just got his first black-type progeny and it would be nice to add our name to that list!
I’m happy to report that Quiet Zain is coming back well from the injury he sustained winning his Quinte in July and is now back under saddle. He should be ready to run in October. Dubai Empire is also coming along and hopefully will be fit for September. We’ve had to have plenty of patience for our youngsters who haven’t raced yet – Kako Koritsi, Kallistos and Gold Eagle – but hopefully we’ll get there with all of them over the course of the autumn! Gavotte had her debut in July but unfortunately came back with sore shins, so she’ll need more time before she tries again.
The View From the Yard
We are going to Tattersalls sale at Newmarket in late October. This is one of the sales we look for horses with French premiums and opportunities to improve. If you or a friend are interested in ownership please contact me. We offer you the opportunity to buy your own horse or as we say in the yard “take a leg of a horse” which means anywhere from 5% to 50% of the horse. We have owners who like to spread the costs and new owners are always welcome.
Cagnes-sur-Mer is not that far off. Come join us for a day, a week, a fortnight or the entire 6 weeks from mid-January to late February on the French Riviera. Many owners and friends are around an we enjoy days at the races and sightseeing on off days. This is an American-style racetrack where the horses live at the track so you can hang out in the barn area, meet many owners and other racetrack characters and they have a great restaurant there.
Pantomime won her first race in France at the young age of seven! It took some time, but she bested a field of 18 runners in the Class 3, 2400 meter handicap, Prix du Gazon d’Acheres in Maisons-Laffitte.
Mickael Barzalona rode a perfect race taking advantage of a nice post position at number 10 and overcoming the top-weight handicap. Golden Club, number 17, made the strongest break from his number two position in the gates to take a several lengths lead early on. This proved too much for the 10-year-old gelding as he faltered in the home stretch.
Pantomime proved too much in the end for his only challenger Notorious Imperial, a six-year-old gelding.
The race was run on good ground, measuring 3.4 on the penetrometer, in 2m34s. The winner paid 4 euros for a 1 euro wager.
Today is the last day of the winter flat race meeting at Cagnes-sur-Mer. The days are now getting longer and temperatures warmer, but it’s time to think about packing our gear and heading north, back to Maisons-Laffitte.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment and mention the welcome and hospitality of everyone at the Motel Ascot. Christopher and Virginie, racehorse owners themselves, opened their doors and treated us like good old friends for the past six weeks. We’re near the track and on the promenade with a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. What could be better?
Our owners have all been shown the same hospitality. There is always room at the Inn for anyone that mentions Gina’s name.
It’s a long time until next year, and a lot will happen between now and then, including improvements to our favorite place to stay in Cagnes-sur-Mer. Until then, we’ll keep ticking over and make sure that we’re ready for the winter meeting version 2020!
We know and love this small corner of France near Nice very well since Gina has been coming here for almost 10 years! While those up north are suffering in the cold, we are basking in the warm sun of the French Riviera, from mid-January through the end of February.
Our horses love it. They perform very well in this climate and at this track. Meanwhile, their owners are spending more and more time here, coming from various destinations, including Canada, the United States, England, and Germany.
Cagnes, the place to be
Alors que le Grand Vincennes vit au rythme des courses de prestige, Cagnes-sur-mer et son incontournable meeting hivernal rayonnent dans l’ombre de l’ogre et ses célèbres joutes parisiennes. Loin de se concurrencer, les deux tournois sont complémentaires. D’un côté les cracks et la fraîcheur de Grosbois. De l’autre le petit hippodrome azuréen avec son soleil et les cracks du turf français. De plus en plus beau avec des installations en perpétuelles améliorations, l’hippodrome provincial attire les plus grands. Soumillon, Boudot, Guyon et tous les autres ne se trompent pas. C’est bien à Cagnes qu’il faut être. La recette est simple mais efficace: soleil, pistes de qualité et un accueil chaleureux. La présence de nos meilleurs jockeys fait le bonheur des parieurs, petits entraîneurs et propriétaires. Et des commerces locaux. Evénement majeur de la vie cagnoise et de son économie, les courses et toute sa « caravane » ( professionnels, jockeys, parieurs…) occupent une place répondérante dans la vie économique de Cagnes. Les meilleurs attirent et font jouer. Et de par leur présence permettent au meeting de rester ce qu’il a toujours: une éclaircie au beau milieu de l’hiver et un poumon essentiel pour l’activité des commerçants.
Les temps sont durs pour les courses françaises mais l’optimisme est de rigueur. Si les Grands jouent le jeu, on est forcé d’y croire. Leur présence est indispensable. Remercions les!
La course à la Cravache d’Or y est sûrement pour quelque chose. Nous ne pouvons que nous en réjouir. Encore plus si la finale se joue à Pornichet ou à Marseille. Pour le bonheur de tous.
Christopher Doussot is the owner and manager of the Motel Ascot in Cagnes-sur-Mer and thoroughbred owner in France. We and several of our owners have enjoyed his hospitality and the comfort of his hotel for years.
This article appeared in the Paris Turf, dated February 1, 2019, in Le Point de Vue on page one.