Dedicated to the memory of one of the greatest French fillies, this race was held for the first time in 1902 at Maisons-Laffitte, where it remained until 1920, with the exception of five war years (cancelled from 1915 to 1919). Transferred to Saint-Cloud in 1921, the race also fell victim to the Second World War, being cancelled in 1940 and 1941, then moved to Longchamp in 1942 and 1945, to Tremblay in 1943, and to Auteuil in 1944. Brought back to Saint-Cloud in 1946, the race remained there until 1994. After a short sojourn at Evry (1995 and 1996), it has found a new home at Toulouse since 1997, following the introduction of a decentralisation policy. The race’s distance has undergone a few modifications: 12 furlongs from 1902 to 1905, 1 mile 5 furlongs from 1906 to 1912, 12 furlongs in 1913, 10 furlongs from 1914 to 1923, 12 furlongs from 1924 to 1928, and 1 mile 2 ½ furlongs since 1929. In 2013, the Prix Fille de l’Air will be run for the 105th time.
Fille de l’Air.
Originally christened Capucine II by her breeder M. Benoist, this chestnut filly born in 1861 to Faugh-a-Ballagh and Pauline (Volcano) was acquired by the Comte de Lagrange and renamed Fille de l’Air. In the autumn of 1862, in the sale of the horses of Baron Nivière and the Comte de Lagrange that took place to dissolve their partnership, the latter personally repurchased Fille de l’Air for 8,500 francs, sending her for training to Tom Jennings at Newmarket. From the age of 2, she showed her great quality, obtaining five victories and four places in nine outings. Her victories were acquired at Epsom (Woodcote Stakes), Goodwood (Molecomb Stakes), Brighton (walkover) and at Newmarket (sweepstakes and Criterion Stakes).
As a 3-year-old, she made her return in the Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket; despite starting as favourite, she finished last, her jockey Arthur Edwards appearing disinterested in the race. In France, Fille de l’Air came home third in the Poule d’Essai (behind two colts) and comfortably won the Prix de Diane. The following week, she triumphed in the Oaks at Epsom, where he victory provoked a clamour of indignation due to her lamentable showing at Newmarket. She returned to France for the Grand Prix de Paris, in which she finished third behind Vermout and Blair Athol (Derby) but was disqualified after her jockey Edwards faijled to report for weighing after the race. After a period of rest, she continued to shuffle between the British Isles and the continent, coming second at Royal Ascot and recording eight victories – at Brighton, Moulins, Baden-Baden (two), Longchamp (Grand Prix du Prince Impérial) and Newmarket (three) – interspersed with two second places, in the Grand Prix de Baden and the Free Handicap at Newmarket.
As a 4-year-old, despite failing in the Ascot Gold Cup, Fille de l’Air added six more victories to her list of honours, two at Newmarket, three at Longchamp (Biennal, La Coupe and Grand Prix de l’Impératrice) and one at Royal Ascot (Alexandra Plate). This gave her a career total of twenty-one victories and over 400,000 F in winnings, a colossal sum at the time. Sent to the Dangu stud farm after turning 5, Fille de l’Air produced no offspring in the first year, before combining with Gladiateur in 1868 to foal Eole. Born with a club foot, he had to content himself with winning two races as a 3-year-old at Saint-Brieuc. Fille de l’Air had two other products with Gladiateur which did not race, but with his father, Monarque, she produced a filly named Reine in 1869 which fully lived up to its name by winning the Thousand Guineas and the Oaks. Two other products of Fille de l’Air also showed their quality: Fille du Ciel (1872 by Monarque) winner of the Prix de la Salamandre, and Flavio (1876 by Consul) placed third in the Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris. In 1878, Fille de l’Air died at Dangu at the age of 17. She is well deserving of having her name attached to an important race.
A brief history.
The names of some excellent fillies adorn the winners’ list of the Prix Fille de l’Air. They include La Camargo (1903), Punta Gorda (1906, 1907), Basse Pointe (1911), Tripolette (1912), Quoi (1924), Rollybuchy (1929), Cosquilla (1937), Radio (1953), Denisy (1958), Miss Dan (1970) and Detroit (1980).
The record of four victories is held by Marcel Boussac: Pharelle (1945), Caraida (1955), Arbela (1961) and Artania (1963).
3 Jean Lieux: Punta Gorda (1906, 1907) and Rivista (1914).
2 Jean Stern: Herlies (1921) and Fussy (1957).
2 Ralph-Beaver Strassburger: Briseis (1926) and La Désirade (1927).
2 Octave Homberg: Larsy (1928) and Rollybuchy (1929).
2 Saturnino-J. Unzue: Blue Bell III (1935) and Cosquilla (1937).
2 Roger Saint: Pereire (1939) and Denisy (1958).
2 Vicomtesse Vigier: Mascotte (1942) and Nébalie (1968).
2 Mme Laudy-L. Lawrence: Fair Eire (1947) and Hero (1951).
2 Robert Sangster: Detroit (1980) and Snow Day (1981).
2 Comtesse Batthyany: Ahohoney (1984, 1985).
2 Jacques Wertheimer: Solveig (1989) and Fabulous Hostess (1991).
2 Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum: Neptune’s Bride (1999) and Tashelka (2007).
The record of four victories is held jointly by Charles Defeyer: Quoi (1924), Larsy (1928), Rollybuchy (1929), Mascotte (1942); and François Boutin: Satu (1968), Snow Day (1981), Liastra (1986), Mystery Rays (1988) and André Fabre: Savoureuse Lady (1990), Dance Dress (2002), Walkamia (2003) and Tashelka (2007).
3 Georges Martin: Punta Gorda (1906, 1907) and Rivista (1914).
3 Mme Christiane Head-Maarek: Solveig (1989), Fabulous Hostess (1991) and Linda Regina (2004).
2 George Cunnington: Sofia (1904) and Luzerne (1905).
2 George Milton: Mafia II (1908) and Basse Pointe (1911).
2 Emile Charlier: Lotus Lily (1925) and Lady Cast (1943).
2 Thomas Murphy: Briseis (1926) and La Désirade (1927).
2 Frank Carter: Merveille (1930) and Anatolie (1934).
2 Juan Torterolo: Arabia (1933) and Cosquilla (1937).
2 John Cunnington: Pereire (1939) and Resabiada (1956).
2 François Mathet: Reine d’Atout (1954) and Arnica II (1964).
2 Henri Nicolas: Arbela (1961) and Artania (1963).
2 Charles-William Bartholomew: Dame de la Cour (1965) and Kalinia (1969).
2 Philippe Lallié: Miss Dan (1970) and Première Harde (1974).
2 Emmanuel Chevalier du Fau: Gramy (1976) and Silver Bells (1977).
2 Olivier Douieb: Detroit (1980) and Sham’s Princess (1982).
2 Robert Collet: Darine (1983) and La Boum (2008).
2 Jacques-Charles Cunnington: Ahohoney (1984, 1985).
2 Alain de Royer-Dupré: Khariyda (1987) and Marie de Ken (1995).
2 Henri-Alex Pantall: Neptune’s Bride (1999) and Aiglonne (2000).
2 Carlos Laffon-Parias: Antioquia (2005) and Skia (2011).
The record of four victories belongs to Alfred Gibert: Kalinia (1969), Miss Dan (1970), Sybarite (1973) and Irena (1975).
3 George Stern: La Camargo (1903), Mafia II (1908) and Messaouda (1909).
3 Guy Duforez: Larsy (1928), Rollybuchy (1929) and Mascotte (1942).
3 André Dupuit: Pamina (1936), Adieu (1938) and Pereire (1939).
3 Roger Poincelet: Plouvien (1946), Arbela (1961) and Artania (1963).
3 Yves Saint-Martin: Arnica II (1964), Darine (1983) and Khariyda (1987).
3 Maurice Philipperon: Nursery Song (1966), Twilight Hour (1978) and Ahohoney (1984).
3 Cash Asmussen: Liastra (1986), Savoureuse Lady (1990) and Royale Chantou (1993).
3 Christophe Soumillon: Dance Dress (2002), Walkamia (2003) and La Boum (2008).
2 George Bellhouse: Sofia (1904) and Luzerne (1905).
2 George Parfrement: Punta Gorda (1906, 1907).
2 André Rabbe: Sans Rancune (1932) and Lady Cast (1943).
2 Walter Sibbritt: Anatolie (1934) and Blue Bell III (1935).
2 Germain Kimpe: Orthez (1944) and Chez Elle (1948).
2 Jacques Doyasbère: Pharelle (1945) and Hero (1951).
2 Maxime Garcia: Radio (1953) and Rivesarthe (1960).
2 Gilbert Pezeril: Nébalie (1962) and Dame de la Cour (1965).
2 Alain Lequeux: Detroit (1980) and Sham’s Princess (1982).
2 Guy Guignard: Solveig (1989) and Fabulous Hostess (1991).
2 Sylvain Guillot: Marie de Ken (1995) and Neptune’s Bride (1999).