Président de la République Chase history: The French National

Président de la République Chase history: The French National

Considered the French equivalent of the Grand National, also a handicap and a very well-endowed Group 3, the Président de la République Chase is one and a half mile shorter. On the other hand, with its € 225,000 in prize money, it is one of the most coveted races in Auteuil, and also one of the possible paths to take on the way to the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris …

April, Auteuil

Président de la République Chase

Group3, 5-year-olds and more, Steeple-Chase, 4,700m/2m7 1/2f, €225,000

Created in 1895

Last winner: Montgeroult (g5 FRA by Kapgarde ex My Samsara, by Trempolino), owned by Robert Ollivier, bred by Sven Pauwels, trained by Marcel Rolland, ridden by Geoffrey Ré.

The race would be run in 2020 for the 121st time

The 2019 edition

The five-year-old gelding Montgeroult (Kapgarde) easily won the Prix du Président de la République Handicap Chase (Gr3), renamed this year Prix Notre-Dame de Paris, Sunday at Auteuil. Trained by Marcel Rolland, who won this “French Grand National” for a record fifth time, Mongeroult was bred in Normandy by Sven Pauwels. He is the only horse owned by Robert Ollivier today.
Montgeroult is the first foal out of the unraced mare My Samsara (Trempolino), who has since given a 3-year-old filly by Kapgarde in training with Richard Chatel and a Martaline colt.
It was only the 8th appearance of Mongeroult, seventh for his comeback and fourth in the preparatory race, the Prix Lutteur III Handicap Chase (L), also at Auteuil but on a shorter distance. He was wearing blinkers and a noseband for the first time, which allowed him to be more focused than usual on Sunday.

History

With the successful creation of the Prix Montgomery in 1892 – an “international steeplechase” run during the autumn in the form of a handicap and offering a 50,000-F reward to the winner – the Société des Steeple-Chases de France decided in 1895 to organise an identical race in the spring. Christened the Prix du Président de la République, the race was inserted into the racing calendar on Easter Monday. The first edition on 14 April 1895 attracted twenty horses and must have satisfied the handicapper, as the first three, DarlingFleuron and Bayan, finished separated by just a short head and a neck. It also lived up to the expectations of the public, who for decades had been clamouring to see the thrills and spills of a race chock-a-block with starters. Consequently, this Easter meeting became the most popular at Auteuil after the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris and one of the most profitable for the coffers of the Société des Steeples. Moreover, the regular presence at the event of the President of the Republic up until the Second World War constituted an additional attraction for race-goers.

Originally open to horses aged 4 and over, the Prix du Président de la République excluded 4 year-olds from 1941. It was not held from 1915 to 1919 and, from 1941 to 1946, it adopted the name of the “Grand Steeple-Chase de Printemps”. Its distance has undergone numerous changes from 2m4f to 3m2½ furlongs.

The Président de la République Chase has brought together large fields at Auteuil. The record was set in 1973, when thirty went to post. On three occasions (1934, 1959 and 1976), there have been 29 entrants lined up at the start, twenty-seven on two occasions (1977 and 1982) and twenty-six on five occasions (1960, 1963, 1965, 1974 and 1981). Since 1994 (when the pari mutuel was computerised), the number of starters has been limited to twenty.

The highest weights carried victoriously in the Prix du Président de la République have been 79 kilos (Héros XII 1922), 77 kilos (Héros XII 1921), 76 kilos (Coq Gaulois 1920 and Fifrelet 1953), 75 kilos (Fragilité 1906 and Méli Mélo 1950), 74 kilos (Taillebourg II 1900, Violon II 1904, Aveyron 1914, Quo Vadis 1956 and 1958 and Noiro 1966). During the last thirty years, only five horses have triumphed with 70 kilos or more: Carmont (70 kilos in 1981), Le Pontif (71 kilos in 1984), Sabre d’Estruval (70 kilos in 1990), Subehargues (71 kilos in 2001), Objectif Spécial (70.5 kilos in 2009) and Quart Monde (72 kilos in 2012).

In 2019, a few days after a fire partly destroyed the monument, the race was renamed Prix Notre-Dame de Paris and part of the betting revenues were dedicated to the reconstruction of the cathedral.

The Prix du Président de la République and the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris

This double has been done eleven times, eight times in the same year: Dandolo (1908), Hopper (1912), Coq Gaulois (1920), Héros XII (1922), Master Bob (1924), La Frégate (1930), Méli Mélo (1950), Tournay (1950); and three times in different years: Agitato (Pdt. 1932, 1933, Gd. St. 1934), Bouzoulou (Pdt. 1951, Gd. St. 1949), Fondeur (Pdt. 1978, Gd. St. 1980).

The Prix du Président de la République and its record Tierce

Since the creation of this type of bet in 1954, the Prix du Président de la République has always (except in 1967) been a support for the tierce. On 21 April 1957, there were twenty-five starters. In the first three places came no. 20 Quimilgrey (63/4), no. 18 Junia (140/1) and no. 19 Xanthor (100/1). There were no winning tickets in the exact order of finishing, but twenty-nine punters picked the first three in any order. Their winnings reached 6,491,960 old French francs for a stake of 200 F, the basic unit stake at the time. If a single correct bet had been placed on the finish order, the winnings would have been 27,686,400 F for a stake of 200 F. These record winnings (32,459/1) are purely theoretical, however.

Owners 

  • Charles Liénart (3 wins): Serpent (1901), Mal au Ventre (1905), Coq Gaulois (1920).
  • Gustave Beauvois (3 wins): Very Well (1927, 1930), La Frégate (1931).
  • Max de Rivaud (3 wins): Colombo (1929), Dago (1938), Le Barjaz (1943).
  • Marquise de Moratalla (3 wins): Blacklock (1965), Algan (1993), Alt’ela (1994).

Trainers 

  • Marcel Rolland (5 wins): Martinet II (1986), Perceval SF (1988), Chant Royal (1998), Full Jack (2013), Montgeroult (2019).
  • Maurice d’Okhuysen (4 wins): Colombo (1929), Dago (1938), Un Grisard (1939), Le Barjaz (1943).

Riders

  • Arthur Brooks (3 wins): Ardent II (1898), Géographie (1899), Serpent (1901).
  • Théo Nador (3 wins): Catalan (1955), Beaujeu (1961), Taillefer (1962).

A female jockey, Nathalie Desoutter won with Rescato de l’Oust (2010).

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