Our Home away from Home

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!

Guest author: Christopher Doussot

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.

One week, two winners!

Ray of Hope runs a clinic on winning in Cagnes-sur-Mer

Chicken dinner! Ray of Hope gives us our first win of the year (and of the Cagnes meeting). Good old Ray absolutely loves it down here and the wide draw was no problem at all. He was in control from start to finish and won without a single crack of the whip.
From Gina Rarick on Facebook

Ray was cursed with the worst draw on the 2000m fibersand course in Cagnes, 16 out of 16. However, Mickael Forest, who knows the horse perfectly, ran it just right, taking control of a field that never threatened. It was a demonstration by the jockey and horse team that controlled events from beginning to end.

Ray has now run 11 times in Cagnes-sur-Mer, with an incredible record of 4 wins*, 4 seconds, and a 6th. Only twice was he out of the money.

*Ray actually won 5 races but was distanced once to second.

Bleu Astral holds on for the win!

Coralie Pacaut held on to win with Bleu Astral. Crossing the finish line first, by a short nose, ahead of  Magic Mystery who was finishing very strong. Coralie managed the ride very well taking advantage of an open rail to pick up ground on the backstretch, then gain and hold on the lead until the end.

This marks Bleu’s first win since his long layoff because of an injury in 2017, and a job well done by all of the team to bring him back to form. Special credit goes to Cat Ternynck and Kimara Hoste for helping him in his rehabilitation.

It was a very good year

Winners for Gina Rarick from the 2018 season.

Looking back

Time flies, and so it is the moment for a quick look back at the year that was 2018. We had 151 runners this past year, and 80 of them came home earning some money; Twelve of them won, and our total yard earnings topped 400,000 euros for the first time, finishing at 410,258. We never have more than 18 horses in training at any one time and started a total of 31 different horses. That makes those numbers something our team can be proud of. We had some sales-ring thrills this year, too, watching Ardara Belle top 200,000 euros in the Arc sale.

Looking ahead

In the 10 years that I’ve been a public trainer, the numbers have improved every year. We have every expectation that the trend will continue in 2019. We have some very interesting horses in the yard at the moment, and the search for even better performers never stops. But nothing can happen without our owners, and this is the moment to say a huge thank you for coming aboard and having the faith to stay aboard!

We are going to put every effort into making 2019 a truly spectacular year for our yard and our owners. As you all know, French racing is struggling and after next year there will be some serious questions about prize money and the situation going forward. So over the next year, let’s take all the money we can, and hope that France Galop can sort itself out so that next year when I’m writing my annual wrap, it won’t be an obituary for racing.

Heading south

We’re off to Cagnes-sur-Mer in two weeks to start the year with a bang, and after that, we have some very specific goals to reach. We need more winners and more black type next year. Stay tuned to see if we can make it happen!

King Driver retires

King will leave a void that will be difficult to fill.

So we have come to this day, after all. King Driver (Domedriver and Queenmara out of King Of Clubs) has been officially retired, and the yard has an empty space that is far bigger than King’s box.

King has been our standard-bearer for nearly nine years. He leaves us with six wins and 25 places from 55 starts, and many, many memories, both wonderful and challenging. I didn’t train him, he trained me.

King Driver at the 2010 Osarus yearling sales at La Teste.

He was the first (and still only) yearling an owner trusted me to buy at the sales. He taught me about tapeworms, flat feet, pirouettes, broken bones (and how you could discover them years after the fact), the importance of jockey choice (he just simply refused to move when he disagreed), how to load a horse in the truck (one large German with a huge yell will do the trick), how to spot ghosts (but still, only he could see them), gelding (don’t wait, just do it), but mostly how an incredibly beautiful chestnut with an eight-meter stride length and a heart that no one could match can glide to the finish line first when all the stars align.

We will miss you very much, King.

“It is very emotional coming to the end of the ‘King’ era. Right from the start, finding Gina on-line (she loved horses/was vocally anti-drugs/spoke English – well nearly!) buying the outstanding King by video-streamed auction whist on the phone to Gina at Osiris and following King’s outstanding career whilst sharing a few bottles of champagne and Mojitos. He loved Cagnes-Sur-Mer and the town liked King. We like characters and King was surely that – see my wife Jean’s chewed finger. There can be no better stables in France – friendly, dedicated and successful. Gina, we look forward to your future success and hosting you, Tim & team in Guernsey where you can get your second? international winner. Love and success to you all.”
Steve Butterworth, owner.

King Driver winning the Prix de Juan-les-Pins in Cagnes-sur-Mer, February 14, 2015. (Scoopdyga)

“Thank you Gina, it’s been a great experience and we were blessed that we found you and had all our faith in you finding him when everyone said “ there’s no future in a ‘driver’ “. Your yard and your team are what all owners look for! Much love and luck.”
Steve Camm, owner.

QZ wins a Quinté

Quiet Zain easily taking the Prix d’Antibes Quinté handicap.

Quiet Zain (Youmzain) won the Prix d’Antibes Quinté handicap February 17, 2018, in Cagnes-sur-Mer. It was a first for him and for the yard.  Michael Forest placed him in perfect position behind the leaders and pulled out in the stretch with plenty of horse to leave the field behind.

QZ, as he’s known at the yard, had the perfect draw at 6 in the fifteen-horse field and was quickly placed behind the leaders, drafting number 13 – Fair Trade (Tertullian)  – who would end up with 5th place.

The race took place on the fibersand track over a distance of 2400 meters (1.5 miles). Time of the race was 2’29”58. Quiet Zain paid 8.40 euros to win.

Video replay of the race

 

Grey Sensation comes through

25/01/2016 - Cagnes-sur-Mer - Prix du Roussillon : Arrivée

Grey Sensation (number 16 pictured above) earned his High Street Racing shareholders their first check at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Monday when he finished encouragingly to get up for fifth place in the 26,000-euro Prix de Roussillon, a 2000-meter (1 1/4 mile) handicap on the fibersand course.

Fifth place in the race was worth 1,300 euros, but more importantly was the style with which the 4-year-old son of Aussie Rules did it. Towards the rear for most of the way,the 12-1 Grey Sensation was short of room entering the 3-furlong straight. Gradually angled out by Alexei Badel, he was finishing fastest of all at the end, where he was just 1 1/4 lengths behind the winning favorite, Polkarena.

This was a performance that hearkened back to Grey’s third-place effort going 100 meters shorter at Deauville on Dec. 11, and had trainer Gina Rarick singing his praises.

“He’s a really consistent horse, a really nice horse,” she said., “and he loves this distance. My only regret is that he got stuck as the bottom weight (53.5 kilos, or 118 lbs.) in the second division of this handicap. But for one pound in the weights he would have been in the much easier third division, which he would have won.”

So there are a number of positives to take from Grey Sensation’s second outing for High Street Racing. Moreover, his handicap mark will remain the same after today, offering even greater encouragement for his next outing at the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur.

Bleu Astral’s run Saturday in Cagnes

Bleu Astral disappointed his High Street Racing backers on Saturday as he faded to finish last of eight in the 17,000-euro Prix de General Saint Didier, a 1600-meter (one-mile) claiming race on the Cagnes-sur-Mer fibersand track.

Sent off at an unpromising 35-1 but away alertly under Guilain Bertrand in the amateur riders race, Bleu was soon tracking the leaders in third place, less than two lengths off a strong pace. After three furlongs he took the lead, but hopes were short lived as he fell back into third midway around the turn. Entering the straight he had nothing left, ultimately finishing 10 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Sterling Run.

“This was an extremely disappointing effort,” said trainer Gina Rarick. “He never took a breath during the race and he never relaxed. We’ll have to drop him into the lower claiming ranks now.”

A 2000-meter (1 1/4-mile) race fibersand later in the meeting could be Bleu Astral’s next start, although a return to soft or heavy turf, a surface over which he won twice last summer in Britain, might yet throw some light on the subject. For the moment, there is no turf race in the program for him.

Grey Sensation to run the Prix du Roussillon

High Street Racing’s Grey Sensation makes his second start of the Cagnes-sur-Mer winter meeting on Monday when he squares off against 15 rivals in the 26,000-euro Prix du Roussillon, a 2000-meter (1 1/4-mile) handicap on Fibresand.

Both trainer Gina Rarick and rider Alexei Badel were agreed that Grey was in need of a longer distance after his sixth-place finish last Saturday in a one-mile handicap. In his previous start at 1900 meters (1 3/16 miles), he had run what was probably his best race to date when finishing strongly to be third in a 1900-meter (1 3/16-mile) handicap.

So a return to about 10 furlongs should prove beneficial.

Badel will be back in the saddle again on Monday when Grey Sensation will carry lightweight of 53.5 kilos (118 lbs.) and break from post 11 in the 16-runner field. Post time for the Roussillon, the third race on he card, will be 2:50 pm (CET); 1:50 pm (GMT); 8:50 am (EST).

Bleu Astral set for Saturday

Bleu Astral makes his third start for High Street Racing at Cagnes-sur-Mer on Saturday, but his first in the syndicate’s yellow and green colors, when he goes in a 1600-meter (one-mile) claiming event worth 17,000 euros on the Hippodrome de la Cote d’Azur’s fibersand track.

Entered for a claiming price of 20,000 euros, the Astronomer Royal 4-year-old will be making his third start for trainer Gina Rarick. An improved effort last time in a similar event over an inadequate 1300 meters (6 1/2 furlongs) saw him finish ninth of 15, beaten by just 6 lengths. Further improvement is expected on Saturday when he returns to his favorite distance of a mile, over which he won his last two races in Great Britain in August.

Following a 14-hour van ride accompanied by his High Street Racing stablemate Grey Sensation and four other Gina Rarick trainees, Bleu Astral arrived in Cagnes last Friday morning and has settled in well. A sharp Wednesday morning workout on the main track with Ray of Hope, a two-time winner at Cagnes-sur-Mer last winter, sets him up well for this contest.

Bleu Astral will carry the the number three saddlecloth and break from post 2 in the race for amateur riders. Mr. Guilan Bertrand will be in the saddle for the first race on the card with post time scheduled for 12:45pm (11:45 am GMT); 7:45 am (EST).

Bleu Astral ridden by trainer Gina Rarick, 21 January 2015.
Bleu Astral ridden by trainer Gina Rarick, 21 January 2015.