Hurricane Lane proved himself to be a rapidly emerging global equine superstar when he annihilated a high-class field to give Team Godolphin a much sought-after maiden success in the Grand Prix de Paris (Group 1), one of France’s premier middle-distance races run at Longchamp Racecourse.
Ridden by jockey William Buick, for trainer Charlie Appleby, Hurricane Lane was following up on his impressive Irish Derby (G1) triumph last month and looked every inch a champion that he is hoped to be.
Europe’s great middle distance races beckon for the son of Frankel who looks set to tackle the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Cup at Ascot in England.
Irish raider Wordsworth, the mount of multiple French champion jockey Olivier Peslier, finished best of the rest with Alenquer and James Doyle running on for third.
Godolphin is the stable created by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Significance of Grand Prix de Paris
The Grand Prix de Paris is one of only four French Group 1 races run at a classic distance of 2,400m, along with the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most prestigious horse race whose winner is often acclaimed as a champion.
Inaugurated in 1863 the Grand Prix de Paris has been run over a variety of distances between 2,000m and 3,000m before finding its home as a 2,400m contest since 2005 as part of reforms conducted by France Galop, related to boosting the emphasis of the Classic programme for three-year-olds.
It is also the third round of a French ‘Triple Crown’ series which starts with the Emirates Poules d’Essai (French 200 Guineas) and continues in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) and the Prix de Diane Longines, all run over progressive distances starting with a mile.
Horses are bred and developed in a way to compete over specific distances and it is the 2,400m races that have been uniquely preserved at the classic ‘Derby’ distance, which tests a horse’s speed, stamina, and endurance.
Sponsored by fashion house Louis Vuitton from 1988 to 1992 it is currently run under the sponsorship of Juddmonte Farms who began their association with the race in 2001.
With prize money of €600,000 on offer Grand Prix de Paris is an attractive proposition for most horse connections n Europe and given its ideal timing in the calendar, coming after the English and Irish Derby’s and ahead of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, it often attracts some of the best horses in Europe.
However, what is perhaps most significant about the Grand Prix de Paris is that it is held on the national day of France, more commonly known as Bastille Day. The formal name of the day in French is Fete Nationale and it is recognised as one of the most important days in France as it marked the start of the French Revolution in 1789 when a mob, tired of being ruled under a monarchy, stormed a prison and freed prisoners.
The Grand Prix de Paris was created to showcase the best homebred three-year-olds who would compete against international opponents over 3,000m with the inaugural running being won by a British colt called The Ranger.
For the Classic generation, it represents one of the best opportunities for them to test their ability en route to a shot at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Legendary French handler Andre Fabre has won the contest no less than 13 times since Dancehall back in 1989) and Gallante on the last occasion in 2014.
Oddly enough Dubai’s powerful Team Godolphin have never managed to win the race although the stable’s founder, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has been successful on three occasions with Fort Wood (1993), Limpid (1998) and Cavalryman (2009).
Going the distance in style
Here we look at the three other 2,400m races and their merits and significance on the French racing calendar.
Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud
The Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud is open to horses aged four years or older and is run each year in late June or early July.
The event was established in 1904 and is currently worth 240,000 euros.
Famous winner: Treve (2015). Trained by Mme Criquette Head-Maarek
The Prix Vermeille follows the Grand Prix de Paris and is scheduled to take place each year in September.
Established in 1897 it is preceded by the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas) and the Prix de Diane and is the final leg of France’s fillies’ Triple Crown. Only six horses have won all three races, most recently Zarkava in 2008.
The Prix Vermeille is held three weeks before the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and it often acts as a trial for the historic French showpiece.
Famous winner: Galikova (2011). Trained by Freddy Head
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Popularly referred to as the ‘Arc’, it is by far Europe’s most prestigious all-aged horse race with its roll of honour featuring many highly acclaimed champions.
With prize money of 5 million euros it is currently the world’s second-richest turf race (behind Australia’s The Everest).
Famous winner: Sakhee (2001). Trained by Saeed Bin Surour