By Adrien Cugnasse
French domination in the domain of the three-year-old Purebred Arabians is almost taken for granted. The 2018 season was no exception, as four of the five highest ranked horses bore the
'FR' label. This particular quartet also won their spurs in ratings’ terms as a result of contesting the top French events. There is the occasional rumbling that the French stables tend to push their younger stock too much – with the ensuing implications that this has in physical terms. However, rare are those class acts, on the proviso that they are in good health, which aren’t capable of proving their competitive mettle at three. It’s at this age that the selection process traditionally comes into play in a French context, and it has helped shape the careers of future sires such as Manganate (Saint Laurent), Kesberoy (Saint Laurent), Dormane (Manganate) and Djerba Oua (Dragon). The elite performers of the current older PA horses’ division have often raced at three. Of the ten best PA horses which raced in the four-year-olds and upwards’ division in 2018, six of the top ten bore the 'FR' label. Furthermore, nine of these were ‘shaped’ in France so to speak, and eight raced as three-year-olds. Without being precocious themselves, and despite not being a source of early types, nobody will be surprised to learn that the world’s top four English thoroughbred stallions, Galileo (Sadler’s Wells), Sea the Stars (Cape Cross), Frankel (Galileo) and Dubawi (Dubai Millennium), each won as juveniles en route to three-year-old glory the following season. Furthermore, these stallions are the source of the world’s best older and stamina endowed performers. Furthermore, it is in France that the jumpers are schooled very early, and some are even geared towards this discipline as juveniles. However, in the Irish and British cases, things only start to get serious in this domain – two or even three years later. During the course of the last Olympics of jump racing, and for this read the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, which is geared, above all, to older horses, it is worth reflecting that French-breds (14) won the most black type races. This needs to be seen against the backdrop that the 'FR' representation was significantly reduced, and namely to the tune of a factor of 1.5, compared to the Irish contingent.
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