Originally run as the Prix des Sablons, the name was changed in 1949 to honour the memory of the Marquis de Ganay, the former president of the Société d'Encouragement. Created in 1889, the race was initially run over 1 mile 2 furlongs, a distance maintained until 1970, except for the 1944 and 1945 editions which were held at Maisons-Laffitte over 1 mile 2½ furlongs. The race was not held between 1915 and 1918. There is one recorded dead-heat, which occurred in 1943 between Arcot and Tornado. In 1959, the first two finishers were both disqualified: Balbo was demoted for interfering with another horse while entering the home straight, and Malefaim, who came in second, was demoted for boxing in two others horses on the rails. Chief, who finished third, was ultimately declared the winner. The race record (over 1 mile 2 furlongs) of 2 minutes 3.84 seconds was set by Tanerko in 1957; while the record for the 1 mile 2½ furlong version of the event was set at 2 minutes 8.6 seconds by Caro in 1971. In 2013, the race will be run for the 121st time.
Jean de Ganay (1862-1948).
Marquis de Ganay was one of France’s most widely respected race organisers. Elected as a deputy member of the Société d’Encouragement committee in 1902, he became a founder member in 1905 and carried out the commissioner’s role from 1903-1918. In 1933 he was awarded the presidency of the committee, a position he would hold until his death in 1948. Under his direction, and that of the team of commissioners in place at the time, the Société d’Encouragement were responsible for the transformation wrought on the Longchamp hippodrome during the winter of 1903-04, devising the first anti-doping controls (via saliva testing) in 1912, and the 1908 increase in prize money for the Grand Prix de Paris. The 300,000 French Francs on offer made it the most lucrative race around during the pre-First World War years.
Belonging to a family of renowned horsemen, Jean de Ganay (who became a Marquis upon his father’s death in May 1903) followed in the family tradition by serving time in the cavalry. In 1888, he declared his colours (yellow jersey, green cap), and in the same year he acquired the horse Le Gourzy after a claiming race at Longchamp. Le Gourzy would go on to win its owner the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil in 1892. His colours would regularly be worn to victory thanks to horses of the calibre of Kerym (Prix Hocquart 1896), Eperon (Prix Morny 1900), Passaro (Prix Greffulhe 1901), Amer Picon (Prix Gladiateur 1902, 1903), Iermak (La Coupe 1904). Finally, in 1911 one of his horses would taste victory in one of France’s biggest races - As d'Atout winning the Grand Prix de Paris in 1911. As d'Atout was born on Ganay’s Rabey stud farm, at Quettehou in La Manche, where resided another magnificent animal, the stallion Le Sagittaire who champion dam sire in 1906.
Absent from hippodromes during the years separating the two world wars, the Marquis de Ganay’s colours made an unexpected yet remarkable return to the limelight in 1946 via Kerlor, who triumphed in the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil and the Grand Prix de Deauville. Having been adopted by his son, Comte François de Ganay, the colours were once more victorious thanks to the exertions of Rapace, winner of the 1955 Prix du Jockey Club.
A slice of history.
It was only as the 19th century was reaching a close that a series of new races were created, open to older horses and set over distances of less than 2½ miles. These races availed of hefty prize money and were designed as trials for the Prix du Cadran and Ascot Gold Cup, the two most coveted races of the era for 4 year-olds and above. It was with this aim in mind that the Champion Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs, 1877) and the Eclipse Stakes (1 mile 2 furlongs) were set up in England, while the Prix des Sablons (1 mile 2 furlongs, 1889), Prix Boïard (1 mile 2 furlongs, 1891) and Prix du Conseil Municipal (1 mile 4 furlongs in 1893) saw the light of day on French soil,
When the Prix Ganay was promoted to Group I status in 1971, its date and distance were interchanged with those of the Prix d'Harcourt (created in 1929), which was held at the same hippodrome for the same category of horse. Even since, the Prix d'Harcourt (Group II, 1 mile 2 furlongs) has taken place three or four weeks prior to the Prix Ganay, which is an extra ½ furlong in length and is held on the last Sunday in April.
The first edition of the Prix des Sablons involved just three runners, with 5-year-old Le Sancy (at odds of 1/2) heavily favoured. Nonetheless, that did not stop outsider Acheron, at odds of 3/1 and wearing the colours of Auguste Lupin, coming through to win by three quarters of a length. Le Sancy would redeem himself by winning the following year’s race, just one of an impressive list of 27 wins between the ages of 2 and 6 for Baron de Schickler’s famous grey.
The number of runners remained steadfastly low in the pre-First World War years, at an average of just five. That said, the quality made up for the lack of quantity. In 1892 for example, Prix du Jockey Club winner Ermak had to make do with finishing in the frame. With fellow Jockey Club winner Ragotsky coming second in 1894, it was not until 1897 and Champaubert that a winner of the French Derby at Chantilly would also take the Prix Ganay. Following his lead were: Gardefeu (1899), Maintenon (1907), Sourbier (1921), Ksar (1922), Bikala (1982), Helissio (1997) and Vision d'Etat (2009). Meanwhile the following nine Jockey Club second-placers would console themselves with Prix Ganay success: Codoman (1902), Biribi (1927), Tornado (1943), Basileus (1946), Tantième (1951), Diatome (1966), Frère Basile (1979), Le Marmot (1980) and Subotica (1992).
Given the overwhelming tendency to retire quality fillies for breeding at the end of their third year, the so-called weaker sex is thus little represented on the Prix Ganay honours list. An asterisk does though accompany the names of three Prix de Diane winners to have repeated the feat in the Prix Ganay: Galette (1894), Quilda (1898), *La Camargo (1903), Ramscapelle II (1919), La Savoyarde (1931), *Allez France (1974, 1975), Infra Green (1976), Trillion (1978), Triptych (1987), Kartajana (1991) and *Aquarelliste (2002).
Two victors at the English Derby have won the Prix Ganay, Relko (1964) and Mill Reef (1972), the latter achieving the most emphatic win in history by finishing 15 lengths clear of the unfortunate Amadou, defeated by Caro the previous year.
Only five horses have been able to win the race twice. They are: Caïus (1904, 1905), Goya (1939, 1940), Tanerko (1957, 1958), Allez France (1974, 1975) and Saint Andrews (1988, 1989).
The Prix Ganay has also often proved to be a triumphant step on the road to glory taken by future winners of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, since its founding in 1920. The Ganay-Arc double has been pulled off by nine horses: Ksar (1922), Massine (1924), Biribi (1927), Djebel (1942), Tantième (1951), Exbury (1963), Rheingold (1973), Allez France (1974), Subotica (1992) and Dylan Thomas (2007). Two other horses also came agonisingly close to joining that distinguished list, with Ganay winners Cadum (1925) and Sagace (1985) only dropping to second in the Arc after a steward’s enquiry. Bago also wrapped up a double of sorts by winning the Ganay in 2005 to go with his 2004 win as a 3-year-old in the Arc.
Throughout its history the number of foreign runners competing in the Prix Ganay has been relatively low. Visiting horses have only recorded six wins thus far: Mill Reef (1972), Rheingold (1973), Pelder (1995), Golden Snake (2001), Dylan Thomas (2007) and Duke of Marmalade (2008). Back in 2003, the noted English horse Falbrav had to make do with finishing in the frame.
The record of six victories is held by Marcel Boussac: Goyescas (1933), Goya (1939, 1940), Djebel (1942), Goyama (1948) and Nirgal (1949).
Next on the list are:
4 François Dupré: Tantième (1951), Tanerko (1957, 1958) and Relko (1964).
4 Baron Guy de Rothschild: Guersant (1953), Exbury (1963), Free Ride (1965) and Diatome (1966).
3 Edmond Blanc: Gouverneur (1893) and Caïus (1904, 1905).
3 Princess de Faucigny-Lucinge: Rovigo (1929), Rodosto (1934) and Fontenay (1950).
3 Daniel Wildenstein*: Allez France (1974, 1975) and Sagace (1985).
3 Prince Karim Aga Khan: Kartajana (1991), Valanour (1996) and Astarabad (1998).
2 Baron Arthur de Schickler: Le Sancy (1890), Le Sagittaire (1896).
2 Adolphe Abeille: Champaubert (1897) and La Camargo (1903).
2 Simon Guthmann: Biribi (1927) and Barrabas (1930).
2 Jean Couturié: Tornado (1943) and Basileus (1946).
2 Alec Weisweiller: Mât de Cocagne (1952) and Behistoun (1967).
2 Mme Léon Volterra: Saint Andrews (1988, 1989).
2 Enrique Sarasola: Vert Amande (1993) and Helissio (1997).
2 Ecurie Wildenstein: Aquarelliste (2002) and Planteur (2011).
2 Mme S. Magnier et Michael Tabor: Dylan Thomas (2007) and Duke of Marmalade (2008).
* To these 3 victories we can also associate the win collected by his father Georges Wildenstein with Beau Prince II (1956) and those by the Ecurie Wildenstein avec Aquarelliste (2002) and Planteur (2011).
The current record of five victories is jointly held by Henry Count: Rovigo (1929), Rodosto (1934) Basileus (1946), Chanteur (1947), Fontenay (1950); and Geoffroy Watson: Victrix (1938), Guersant (1953), Exbury (1963), Free Ride (1965), Diatome (1966).
Next up are:
4 François Mathet: Tantième (1951), Tanerko (1957, 1958) and Relko (1964).
4 André Fabre: Creator (1990), Subotica (1992), Indian Danehill (2000) and Cutlass Bay (2010).
4 Alain de Royer-Dupré: Kartajana (1991), Valanour (1996), Astarabad (1998) and Dark Moondancer (1999).
4 Elie Lellouche: Vert Amande (1993), Helissio (1997), Aquarelliste (2002) and Planteur (2011).
3 Robert Denman: Fourire (1900) and Caïus (1904, 1905).
3 Albert Swann: Rentenmark (1935) and Goya (1939, 1940).
3 Charles Semblat: Djebel (1942), Goyama (1948) and Nirgal (1949).
3 François Boutin: Le Marmot (1980), Romildo (1984) and Baillamont (1986).
3 Patrick Biancone: Bikala (1982), Sagace (1985) and Triptych (1987).
2 William Webb: Le Sancy (1890) and Le Sagittaire (1896).
2 Tom Cunnington: Barberousse (1891) and Monsieur Gabriel (1895).
2 Richard Carter senior: Bérenger (1892) and Codoman (1902).
2 Richard Count: Galette (1894) and Gardefeu (1899).
2 Juan Torterolo: Biribi (1927) and Barrabas (1930).
2 William Hall: Nino (1928) and Goyescas (1933)
2 William Cunnington: La Savoyarde (1931) and Chuchoteur (1937).
2 John Cunnington junior: Marino (1960) and Grandier (1970).
2 Angel Penna: Allez France (1974, 1975).
2 Maurice Zilber: Trillion (1978) and Argument (1981).
2 David Smaga: Lancastrian (1983) and Marildo (1994).
2 Jean-Marie Béguigné: Saint Andrews (1988, 1989).
2 Aidan-Patrick O'Brien: Dylan Thomas (2007) and Duke of Marmalade (2008).
N.B. One female trainer has saddled a winner in the race: Corine Barande-Barbe with Cirrus des Aigles (2012).
Yves SaintMartin holds the record of six victories: Relko (1964), Taj Dewan (1968), Rheingold (1973), Allez France (1974, 1975) and Sagace (1985).
Next on the list are:
5 Jean Deforge: Marino (1960), Exbury (1963), Free Ride (1965), Diatome (1966) and Behistoun (1967).
4 Tom Lane: Le Sancy (1890), Gouverneur (1893), Quilda (1898) and Fourire (1900).
4 Olivier Peslier: Helissio (1997), Indian Danehill (2000), Fair Mix (2003) and Cirrus des Aigles (2012).
3 Joseph Childs: La Camargo (1903), Cadet Roussel III (1912) and Sourbier (1921).
3 Roger Brethès: La Savoyarde (1931), Rodosto (1934) and Chanteur (1947).
3 Charles Elliott: Goyescas (1933) and Goya (1939, 1940).
3 Jacques Doyasbère: Djebel (1942), Tantième (1951) and Tanerko (1957).
3 Maurice Philipperon: Grandier (1970), Caro (1971) and Arctic Tern (1977).
2 F. Storr: Acheron (1899) and Bérenger (1892).
2 A.-E. Dodge: Galette (1894) and Kremlin (1901).
2 Edouard Watkins: Champaubert (1897) and Gardefeu (1899).
2 George Stern: Caïus (1905) and Chulo (1910).
2 Milton Henry: Rataplan (1906) and Nimbus (1914).
2 Matthew MacGee: Shannon (1913) and Cadum (1925).
2 Robert Ferré: Nid d'Or (1926) and Ortolan (1936).
2 Walter Sibbritt: Barrabas (1930) and Amfortas (1932).
2 Charles Bouillon: Tornado (1943) and Basileus (1946).
2 Roger Poincelet: Seer (1945) and Nirgal (1949).
2 Serge Boullenger: Beau Prince II (1956) and Tanerko (1958).
2 Alain Lequeux: Argument (1981) and Lancastrian (1983).
2 Cash Asmussen: Romildo (1984) and Creator (1990).
2 Thierry Jarnet: Subotica (1992) and Corre Caminos (2006).
2 Thierry Gillet: Execute (2004) and Bago (2005).
2 Christophe Soumillon: Dylan Thomas (2007) and Planteur (2011).