Home Horse Racing France Morny History: One of French racing’s greatest names

Morny History: One of French racing’s greatest names



Group 1, 2-year-olds, 1,200m/6f, €210,000

Created in 1865

Last winner: EARTHLIGHT (c2, IRE by Shamardal ex Winters Moon, by New Approach), owned by Godolphin, bred by Godolphin, trained by André Fabre, ridden by Mickaël Barzalona.

Record-time : 1’07’’90, Arcano (2009)

The race is run in 2020 for the 150th time.

The 2019 edition

Huit ans après la victoire de Dabirsim dans le Darley Prix Morny (Gr1), le championnat européen des 2ans à Deauville revient à nouveau à un poulain entraîné en France, Earthlight (Shamardal), pensionnaire de l’écurie Godolphin et d’André Fabre associé à Mickaël Barzalona.

La candidature du poulain, invaincu en trois sorties jusqu’alors dont une victoire dans le Darley Prix de Cabourg (Gr2), manche des Darley Series dont cette course est la finale, sur ce même parcours de 1 200 mètres en ligne droite, était rendue incertaine par l’alourdissement du terrain. Il n’était pas acquis que ce fils de Shamardal, même si sa mère s’était placée de Gr1 en terrain très souple, soit à son aise sur une piste collante comme elle l’est devenue avec les pluies des derniers jours. Né en Irlande et élevé par Godolphin, l’organisation de la famille Al Maktoum de Dubaï, Earthlight a peut-être effectivement davantage d’aptitude aux terrains plus légers, mais cela ne l’a pas empêché de venir à bout de sa meilleure adversaire, Raffle Prize (Slade Power), à l’issue d’un « Morny » qu’elle avait mené tambour battant.

Toujours bien placé, l’anglais Golden Horde (Lethal Force) termine troisième à deux longueurs et demi des deux premiers, séparés par une encolure seulement.

La mère d’Earthlight, Winters Moon (New Approach), était très bonne à 2 ans puisque sous l’entraînement de Saeed bin Suroor, elle a terminé troisième du Fillies’ Mile (Gr1). À 3 ans, elle a démarré par une troisième place dans le sillage de Star of Seville, future gagnante du Prix de Diane (Gr1), puis a échoué deux fois avant l’été et n’a plus couru. Earthlight est son premier produit.

Sa propre mère Summertime Legacy (Darshaan), élevée par le feu le cheik Maktoum Al Maktoum, était entraînée par André Fabre, chez qui elle a gagné le Prix des Réservoirs (Gr3) et terminé troisième du Prix Saint-Alary (Gr1). C’est la mère de Wavering (Refuse to Bend) et Mandean (Manduro), tous deux gagnants de Groupe 1. On retrouve plus bas le gagnant de Derby d’Epsom Golden Fleece.


The Prix Morny was set up in 1865, the second year that races were held at Deauville, under the name Prix de Morny and over a distance of 5 furlongs. It was established in memory of the Duc de Morny, who had passed away at the beginning of the same year. Its first winner was the filly Puebla II whose owner, A.Desvignes, won 9,150 French Francs. In 1871 its name was changed to the Prix de Deux Ans, but it reverted to the Prix Morny (without the “de”) in 1911. It was not held between 1914 and 1918, or in 1940. It was transferred to Longchamp in 1941 and 1942 (over 5 furlongs) and 1944 (over 6 ½ furlongs), and to Maisons-Lafitte in 1943 and 1945.

In 1866 and 1867 its running distance was 6 furlongs, in 1868 and 1869 it became 6 ½ furlongs, and it was then lengthened to 7 furlongs between 1870 and 1886. It has been run at 6 furlongs since 1887, except on the aforementioned occasions. Weighting was in place until 1920 and could be up to 5kg.

In 2005 the race’s sponsorship was taken over by Darley, a name used by the Sheik Mohammed Al Maktoum for his various stud farms, which led to a 100,000 € increase in prize money. It has also become the #DarleySeries final leg after the Darley Prix Robert Papin (Gr2) and the Darley Prix de Cabourg (Gr3).


Auguste de Morny (1811-1865) was the biological son of the general of Flahaut and Queen Hortense, and was, therefore, the half-brother of the future emperor Napoleon III. After serving as a sub-lieutenant in Algeria, he then went on to found a large and prosperous beet-sugar factory near Clermont-Ferrand. As a delegate of the Puy-de-Dôme in 1842 and in charge of the Home Office, he took part in the coup d’état on 2nd December 1851, which would lead to his half-brother taking power. He became a member of the Corps Législatif in 1852 and was its president from 1854 right up to his death on 8th March 1865. He had three hobbies: artwork, theatre (he wrote scripts under the name Saint-Remy) and horses.

Elected member of the Jockey Club in 1838, Morny raced for the first time that very same year, on the 3rd June at Versailles, for a 2 000 FF bet. His filly Méprisée, ridden by Flatman, was beaten by Mendicant, owned by the Prince of Moscow. One week later she again had to settle for second place out of three runners in the fourth race, a handicap. Morny’s colours (pink jersey, pink cap) were not very successful, despite his best efforts. His horses were trained by Tom Hurst at Lamorlaye and later by Henry Jennings at La Croix-Saint-Ouen. To begin with, his horses were bred at the Lonray stud, and then he bought Nicolas-Joseph Rieussec’s stud at Viroflay, where he brought in the famous West Australian in 1860. This 1853 Triple Crown champion (Two Thousand Guinea Stakes, English Derby, St Leger Stakes) and winner of the Ascot Gold Cup was bought for 4,000 guineas after its previous owner passed away. At the end of 1865, following the death of the Duc de Morny, the Viroflay stud was sold for 135,000FF and West Australian was bought by the Stud Administration for 31,000FF and moved to Pin. Unfortunately, West Australian’s French progeny was as disappointing as it had been on the other side of the channel. On the flat in 1856, the Duc de Morny’s best runner, Diamant had the bad luck of crossing the finishing line in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on the same stride as Lion, only for the latter to finish two lengths ahead of Diamant just one hour later, during a second heat deemed necessary to separate the two runners. Ruy Blas, one of his stock born in 1864, just one year before Morny’s death and sold for just 900FF, went on to win fourteen races as a four-year-old, including the Grand Prix de Bade. The Duc de Morny’s other notable horses were Violette, the 1860 winner of the Poule des Produits (later known as the Prix Daru) and second in the Poule D’EssaiSauterelle, winner of the Prix du Gros Chêne in 1862; Gédéon, who tasted victory in the 1864 Prix de Longchamp (Prix Hocquart); and Noélie, runner-up in the Prix de Diane in 1862 who then went on to win the 1864 Grand Prix de l’Empereur (Prix Gladiator). On 8th April 1865, the Duc de Morny’s twenty-seven horses were sold at Chantilly for a total of 337,950FF.

Without Morny the Longchamp racecourse, the Grand Prix de Paris and the racing at Deauville would not be what they are today. With great foresight, he had anticipated the increase in both racing and tourism. Longchamp, opened in 1857, was chosen to give the Parisian racing a suitable, permanent setting, as opposed to the appalling temporary site used on the Champ de Mars since 1807. The financially-rewarding event the Grand Prix de Paris, whose winner sought to gain 100,000FF, was set up by the Duc de Morny in order to give the capital the chance to host a top sporting event, whose popularity among the international jet-set has been unrivalled since its launch in 1863. He decided to found Deauville, with its casino and races inextricably linked in the Duc’s opinion, with the aim of competing with Baden, a thermal spa in Germany which in 1858 began hosting races with the aid of the Sociéte d’Encouragement. So on Sunday 14th August 1864, on the banks of the Touques River, the first race meeting took place. The Duc de Morny’s colours were entered, worn in the second race by Gentilhomme. He was beaten by Henri Delamarre’s filly Fidelité. But the Duc was known for his generosity, even in defeat. He presented a whip to E.Delchet, the winner of a “poule de hacks”, reserved for gentleman-riders. There would be no second year of racing at Deauville for the Duc de Morny, as he died five months before it took place.


Fillies have won 52 out of 149editions of the race, accounting for 35.2%. This percentage of wins is much higher than in most mixed races and highlights the characteristic early development of young mares.

Foreign runners

The Prix Morny was opened to horses from all over the world in 1875, only to close its doors to foreign horses in 1909, even though no foreign horse had tasted victory up until that point. The ban was lifted in 1947 and several British competitors were subsequently seen at Deauville, with one of them, Delirium, taking off with the Prix Morny for the first time. Lorenzaccio, who had already finished in the frame in the Prix Robert Papin, posed a threat in 1967, but Madina finished comfortably in the lead, just like another filly, Princeline, had done the year before by trouncing the four-strong British coalition, two of which (Folle Rousse and Hopiana) had taken the first and second places at the Prix Robert Papin. No horse could deny the invincible My Swallow, with his collection of five French and two British wins under his girth, the second ever English victory in 1970. It was twenty-four years before the third visitor tasted victory, namely Hoh Magic, a filly trained at Newmarket by Michel Bell. But this win led to an influx of foreign winners – in fact since then there has only been one French victory, that of Charge d’Affaires in 1997. Four English products, Tagula (1995), Bahamian Bounty (1996), Bad As I Wanna Be (2000), Elusive City (2002) and three from Ireland under Aiden O’Brien, Orpen (1998), Fasliyev (1999) and Johannesburg (2001) kept victory out of French grasp until 2003 and 2004 when it was reclaimed thanks to Whipper and Divine Proportions. The foreigners were back in the winner’s circle in 2005 with Silca’s Sister and since then, the French won only twice, with Dabirsim in 2011 and Earthlight in 2019. Two US victories by young speedsters trained by Wesley Ward, No Nay Never (2013) and Lady Aurelia (2016), complete the picture.

Robert Papin and Morny

The Prix Robert Papin and the Prix Morny are usually held one month apart and often the same competitors finish in the running in both races. During the hundred-or-so years that the two races have been in the racing calendar, 19 juveniles have completed the double: Prestige (1905), Necklace (1928), Château Bouscaut (1929), Pearl Cap (1930), Brantôme (1933), Mistress Ford (1935), Nirgal (1945), Auriban (1951), Cordova (1953), Neptune II (1957), Amber Rama (1969), My Swallow (1970), Vitiges (1975), Blushing Groom (1976), Seven Springs (1984), Divine Proportions (2004), Reckless Abandon (2012) and Unfortunately (2017).

A breeding ground for classic winners

Several horses who have taken the laurels at the Prix Morny as a 2 year-old have gone on to taste victory in classic races at 3 years of age. For example, among the winners are: Widgeon (1887) Poule d’EssaiLe Sagittaire (1894) Prix LupinVinicius (1902) Poule d’EssaiVal d’Or (1904) Poule d’EssaiPorte Maillot (1911) Poule d’EssaiSardanapale (1913) Jockey ClubGrand Prix de ParisSourbier (1919) Jockey ClubFairy Legend (1926) Poule d’Essai, DianeChâteau Bouscaut (1929) Jockey ClubPearl Cap (1930) Poule d’Essai, Diane, Arc de TriompheBrantôme (1933) Poule d’Essai, Lupin, Royal Oak, Arc de TriompheMistress Ford (1935) DianeEsmeralda (1941) Poule d’EssaiCoaraze (1944) Jockey ClubAmour Drake (1948) Poule d’EssaiAuriban (1951) Jockey ClubChingacgook (1954) Grand Prix de Saint CloudApollonia (1955) Poule d’Essai, DianeSoleil (1965) Poule d’Essai, Nonoalco (1973) Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, Vitiges (1975) Champion Stakes, Blushing Groom (1976) Poule d’EssaiIrish River (1978) Poule d’EssaiSiberian Express (1983) Poule d’EssaiHector Protector (1991) Poule d’EssaiZafonic (1992) Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, Divine Proportions (2004) Poule d’Essai, Diane. Among those who finished in the frame or were not placed are: Saltarelle, Stockholm, Barberine, Stuart, Arreau, Champaubert, Gouvernant, Flying Star, Banshee, Madrigal, Mary Legend, Rodosto, Bipearl, Mary Tudor, Cillas, Djebel, Caravelle, Ardan, Mistral, Coronation, Sicambre, Midget, Dan Cupid, Kashmir II, Ma Biche, Masarika, River Lady and the superlative Miesque.

Morny and Jacques Le Marois
Nine horses have gone on to win the Prix Jacques Le Marois after bringing the Prix Morny home at 2. They are Zariba (1922), Pearl Cap (1931), Sémiramide (1939), Coaraze (1945), Amour Drake (1949), Nonoalco (1974), Irish River (1979) and Hector Protector (1991) and Whipper (2004).


  • Marcel Boussac (13 wins): Durzetta (1920), Zariba (1921), Banstar (1925), Cécias (1932), Corrida (1934), Sémiramide (1938), Esméralda (1941), Coaraze (1944), Nirgal (1945), Cadir (1946), Auriban (1951), Cordova (1953), Apollonia (1955).
  • Edmond Blanc (8 wins): Marly (1892), Lucie (1899), Farnus (1901), Vinicius (1902), Val d’Or (1904), Mehari (1908), Porte Maillot (1911), Marka (1912).
  • Mme John Magnier (associée, 6 wins): Orpen (1998), Fasliyev (1999), Johannesburg (2001), Myboycharlie (2007), Bushranger (2008), No Nay Never (2013).
  • Alphonse de Rothschild (4 wins): Louis d’Or (1879), Strelitz (1880), Fresca (1893), Thélème (1903).
  • Famille Niarchos (4 wins): Machiavellian (1989), Hector Protector (1990), Coup de Génie (1993), Divine Proportions (2004).


  • Robert Denman (8 wins): Present Times (1884), Frapotel (1886), Farnus (1901), Vinicius (1902), Val d’Or (1904), Mehari (1908), Porte Maillot (1911), Marka (1912).
  • François Boutin (7 wins): Nonoalco (1973), Super Concorde (1977), Tersa (1988), Machiavellian (1989), Hector Protector (1990), Arazi (1991), Coup de Génie (1993).
  • Henry Jennings (5 wins): Eole II (1870), Seul (1871), Fusion (1875), Mantille (1877), Favorite (1881).
  • Richard Carver (5 wins): Kantar (1927), Ad Astra (1937), Amour Drake (1948), Ksarinor (1949), Pharamond (1959).
  • Charles Semblat (5 wins): Coaraze (1944), Nirgal (1945), Cadir (1946), Auriban (1951), Cordova (1953).
  • Alec Head (4 wins): Sanguine (1950), Chingacgook (1954), Darannour (1962), Princesse Lida (1979).


  • George Stern (10 wins): Eperon (1900), Farnus (1901), Vinicius (1902), Val d’Or (1904), Mehari (1908), Porte Maillot (1911), Marka (1912), Durzetta (1920), Zariba (1921), Banstar (1925).
  • Edgar Rolfe (6 wins): Mantille (1877), Louis d’Or (1879), Strelitz (1880), Directrice (1883), Widgeon (1887), Fontanas (1888).
  • Jacques Doyasbère (5 wins): Coaraze (1944), Nirgal (1945), Cadir (1946), Sanguine (1950), Cordova (1953).
  • Gérald Mossé (5 wins): Tersa (1988), Arazi (1991), Chargé d’Affaires (1997), Bad As I Wanna Be (2000), Reckless Abandon (2012).
  • Lanfranco Dettori (5 wins): Bahaman Bounty (1996), Dabirsim (2011), The Wow Signal (2014), Shalaa (2015), Lady Aurelia (2016).
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