Home win in flat season’s first Group contest

Olivier Peslier celebrates on Chinchon

It really must be Spring now. Cheltenham is over, we’ll be putting the clocks forward next weekend and already we’ve had the first European Group race of the new flat season.

Saturday saw Saint Cloud hosting the Group 3 Prix Exbury, a race that would be just as much at home at Goodwood. It takes its name form the racehorse Exbury, who in turn was bred and raced by the de Rothschild’s, owners of the Exbury Park estate in Hampshire’s New Forest. Exbury was a successful middle distance runner of his time, winning the Arc in 1963.

Although the race has bobbed about a bit since it was first run in 1891 (then called the Prix Boiard), both in location and distance, it settled at Saint-Cloud in 1929, moving away only during World War 2. During its time, the race was known for a short time as the Prix Eugene Adam, settling on it current name in 19969

In Saturday’s race Olivier Peslier enjoyed a trouble free ride on board Chinchon, giving the French a home victory as the horse is trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias at Chantilly. He was held up in last place for most of the 10 furlongs, and only unleashed in the straight to come home ahead of War Is War and Saga Dream. Chinchon was doubling up in the race, having previously won it in 2010. It was a notable success, as the horse had been off the track longer than his rivals, having suffered a hairline fracture whilst racing in America last July.

Laffon-Parias hoped the success would be a springboard to an opportunity to race in Dubai, although the main early season target for Chinchon this year is the Singapore Airlines International Cup in May. Before the race the trainer had said his horse would probably need the run so victory in the Exbury was something of a surprise.

Speaking afterwards Laffon-Parias said, “I am waiting for an invitation, as I would very much like to run the horse in the Sheema Classic at Meydan at the end of the month. He did exactly what I wanted today and he will certainly progress for the outing. Today was a comeback race and not his objective. After his injury he spent three months in his box and training conditions (frost) at Chantilly have not been in or favour. Chinchon will soon travel again. He has been entered in Group 1 races in Hong Kong and Singapore.”