Back in 2019 : Crystal Beach throws gauntlet in Murat Chase

4 April 2020

Back in 2019 : Crystal Beach throws gauntlet in Murat Chase


Every week, in a series of articles entitled "Back in 2019", while we wait for the resumption of racing in France, we invite you to look again at last season's main events, updated with what happened next ... Every Thursday, we will also remind you of the best maiden winners from last year.

Saturday, April 6th, 2019, Auteuil. - The AQPS Crystal Beach (Network) confirmed the excellent impression left for his return over hurdles in the Prix Hypothèse Hurdle Race (Gr3) by winning the Prix Murat Chase (Gr2) on Saturday at Auteuil.

Trained by Marcel Rolland, Crystal Beach made his move at the beginning of the opposite straight when the front-running Milord Thomas (Kapgarde) seemed to slow down, and then held in respect Le Costaud (Forestier), long held back from the field of six horses. Bipolaire (Fragrant Mix) finished well in third place, 18 lengths behind the first two.

Crystal Beach finished second last year in the Prix Georges Courtois Chase (Gr2) for his first steps at the best level. At 7, he was running Saturday for the tenth time only. Bred in the Cher by the SCEA des Terres Noires, Crystal Beach had been bought € 165,000 at two at the Arqana summer sale, consigned by Jean-Marie Callier, by Bertrand Le Métayer. He runs for JDG Bloodstock Services, which represents in France the British owner James Gordon. Crystal Beach is a brother to champion hurdler Questarabad (Astarabad), winner of four Groups 1 at Auteuil over hurdles. The last horse foaled by their dam Hatilade (Mont Basile) is Greenland (Diamond Boy), a filly born in 2016.

L’Autonomie (Blue Brésil) had fallen early in the Prix d'Indy Hurdle Race (Gr3) but took revenge on Saturday in the Prix de Pepinvast Hurdle race (Gr3). She went ahead with one lap to go and never looked back. Bred and owned by Catherine Coiffier, she left the field trailing at a distance, with the favourite Feu Follet (Kapgarde), winner of the Prix d’Indy last time out, to lead the chase. He couldn’t catch up though, and finished well but beaten five lengths by the heroine of the day.

Byzantium du Berlais (Martaline) stayed on in third and narrowly held off Laterana (Saint of Saints), who did well for her first race at Auteuil.

L’Autonomie is out of L’Automne (Kahyasi), winner of a single flat race in 18 attempts and claimed € 12,000 by Catherine Coiffier after finishing seventh for her last public appearance. Her dam L'Authie (Linamix), a sister of the Prix Royal-Oak (Gr1) 3rd Cléty (Sillery), finished third of the Prix Renaud du Vivier Hurdle (Gr1) and notably gave La Canche (Le Havre), a Listed-placed over the flat.

After L’Autonomie, L’Automne gave two Diamond Boy colts. The elder, now a gelding, was sold for € 30,000 to John Daniel Moore at Arqana Summer sales last year, and another one was born in the previous year.

Returning after nearly two years out, the champion Blue Dragon (Califet) seemed well on his way for a winning return to Auteuil in the Prix Jean Granel Hurdle Race (L) but another returning challenger, Doctor de Ballon (Doctor Dino), finished the strongest and beat the favourite of a good length. Trained by Louisa Carberry, Docteur de Ballon won for the third time at Auteuil. The 7-year-old is the first foal out of Nile Breeze (Phantom Breeze), who ran 63 times over jumps.

And then ...

Two of the meeting's winners, Crystal Beach and Docteur de Ballon, met three weeks later in the Ingré Chase (Gr3), another Grand Steeple prep race. It looked as if the Murat winner could win again until the run-in, as he was then outsprinted by Docteur de Ballon and Dalia Grandchamp. Crystal and Docteur were both at the start of the Zeturf Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris (Gr1), and both unseated their rider at the rail-ditch-and-fence. Crystal Beach did not race again afterwards, but Docteur went very close to win again in the Drags Chase (Gr2), finishing a close 2nd to Jubilatoire in the last main chase of the Parisian Spring season.

Note that Greenland, Crystal Beach's younger sister, is also training with Marcel Rolland for owner James Gordon.

L'Autonomie has become another De Bon Coeur, her former stable companion, since this first high-profile win. However, she finished only fourth in her next outing, in the Amadou Hurdle race (Gr3) won by Feu Follet, and he connections elected to skip the Alain du Breil 4yo Hurdle race (Gr1), the natural aim for the best 4-year-old hurdlers. She returned in June to take win the Questarabad Hurdle Race (Gr3), and then in the Autumn, when she won two Group 3 Hurdle races before the Renaud du Vivier 4yo HUrdle race (Gr1), crowning her the best of her generation. She has just made a triumphant comeback into the Juigné Hurdle (Gr3), for her first assignment against aged horses.