Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil History: A grand event, as promised!

18 May 2024

Grande course de haies d'auteuil 24 Losange Bleu


May at Auteuil (Paris)



5&up, Hurdle race, 5,100m/3m1 1/2f, €390,000

Created in 1874

Last winner: Losange Bleu (g5 FRA, by Martaline and Sweet Valrose, by Cadoudal), owned by Mrs Patrick Papot, bred by Mrs Patrick Papot, trained by Dominique Bressou, ridden by Johnny Charron.

The race is run in 2025 for the 147th time

The 2023 edition

Saturday, 18 May 2024, Auteuil Racecourse (Paris). – Fourteen runners lined up for the €390,000 Racing TV Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil Hurdle Race (Gr1), including six British and Irish chasing scene raiders. The race promised to be wide open, but despite a 55-day layoff due to a setback, the 5-year-old Losange Bleu (Martaline) was the favourite in the betting, looking to extend his winning streak. Homebre by the Papot Family, he lived up to expectations by leading early on. Although several rivals challenged him over the 3 miles and 1.5 furlongs (5,100m), he dictated the pace.

In the final turn, Dominique Bressou’s charge faced a surprising challenge from Mahler Mission (Mahler), who had recently unseated his rider in the Grand National at Liverpool. Losange Bleu, however, fended off this attack and then held off the strong finish of Hewick (Virtual) along the stands’ rail in the run-in. This came five months after his victory in the King George VI Chase (Gr1) at Kempton Park and a year after finishing fourth in this same race, won by Thélème.

In the end, Losange Bleu secured the top Hurdling race trophy with a length and a half to spare. 2ne-placed Hewick finished a good length ahead of a remarkable July Flower (Pastorius), who edged Mahler Mission by a neck.

Winner of the Prix Renaud du Vivier 4yo Hurdle (Gr1) last year, Losange Bleu is out of Sweet Valrose (Cadoudal), who was twice placed over hurdles at Enghien and Auteuil at the age of 3, racing for Vicenzo Esposito. She later produced several winners before coming under the ownership of the Papot family. Losange Vert (Montmartre), her first foal for the Papot family, won the Prix Duc d'Anjou 4yo Hurdle (Gr3). After Losange Bleu, she produced Losange Vert Bleu (Night Wish), who won his first two hurdle races at Pau this winter and was second in the Prix d’Indy (Gr3) earlier this season.

In June 2022 at Arqana, Vicenza Mia (Fuissé), a sister to Losange Bleu, was sold for €43,000 to Donal White while in foal to Montmartre.



This event was first held at Auteuil on 25 May 1874, on the same day as the "Grand National de France" which, two years later, would adopt the new title of Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. It has not been held from 1915 to 1918 or in 1940. In 2020, it was run in October due to the cancellation of the Spring program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 1882, the Grand Steeple parted company with the Grande Course de Haies. While the former was kept on the last Sunday in May, the latter was given the benefit of a fully-fledged day the following Wednesday. 1883’s introduction of the Drags Chase run two days later on Friday completed the creation of the "Grande Semaine d'Auteuil" desired by the Prince de Sagan, the racecourse’s founder in 1873 and chairman of the Société des Steeple-Chases de France from 1873 to 1897. This "Grande Semaine" where elegance reigned was brought to an end by the events of 1968.

Originally, the Grande Course de Haies was open to horses aged 4 and over. The 4,000-metre distance was raised to 2 ½ miles in 1875, then to 3 miles 1 furlong in 1880. In 1969, it was extended to 3 miles 1 ½ furlong. From 1975 to 1978, it was cut to 2 miles 4 ½ furlongs, before being restored to 3 miles 1 ½ furlong in 1979. In 1961, 4-year-olds were excluded, and a new race aimed at them was created (see Prix Alain du Breil and Prix Renaud du Vivier). Run in handicap form until 1889, it became a weight-for-age race. From its creation until 1883, horses ridden by amateur riders benefited from an allowance of four pounds. From 1883, a handicap of 6 kilos was imposed on the winners of certain big events. Gradually reduced to 3 kilos, it was retained until 1969.

The first running (2 ½ miles, 5,000 F plus entry fees, equal to 11,300 F), contested in the form of a handicap, brought together fourteen starters, two of which had unsuccessfully taken part in the Grand National de France an hour earlier. The public shunned the three most heavily handicapped competitors, opting instead for three English entrants: Jackal (72 kilos), Sir John (70.5 kilos) and Duke of Cambridge (66.5 kilos). And to general delight, they returned their faith by taking the first three places in that order! Le Sport reported only that the two British victories (Miss Hungerford had triumphed in the Grand National de France) "were greeted by warm applause"! Jackal was trained and ridden by twenty-three-year-old Richard Marsh, who would go on to win this Grande Course de Haies twice more as a trainer of two visitors sporting the colours of the Duc de Hamilton, Marc Antony (1882) and Jannock (1886). Later, Richard Marsh was chosen to train the horses of the Prince of Wales, in which capacity he prepared three royal horses for victory in the English Derby at Epsom: Persimmon (1896), Diamond Jubilee (1900) and Minoru (1909) and Jeddah (1898).

The British contingent dominated the Grande Course de Haies for the first ten years, recording six triumphs in all courtesy of Jackal (1874), Miss Lizzie (1877), Paul's Cray (1879), Seaman (1881), Marc Antony (1882) and Beatus (1883). Subsequently, their rate of success dwindled somewhat, to only seven wins between 1884 and 1914 (thirty-one years): Jannock (1886), Aladdin (1888), Count Schomberg (1896), Soliman (1897), General Peace (1900), Karakoul (1905) and Balscadden (1912). Between the two World Wars, their sole success was that of Saint Tudwal (1919). Since then, foreign competitors have been thin on the ground and, up until 2002, they recorded just two further successes: that of the Italian Nigra (1949) and Ireland’s Dawn Run (1984). In view of this record, it was a great surprise when, in 2003, Ireland’s Nobody Told Me (31/1) managed to outstrip the favourite Karly Flight (2/10). The Emerald Isle’s Willie Mullins saddled the race’s victor thrice: Rule Supreme in 2004 (who failed to repeat his success in 2005 behind Lycaon de Vauzelle), and Thousand Stars in 2011 and 2012. 

In 1902, the British entrant Mr Quilp was disqualified purely and simply for having “cut up" his French opponent Bébé, who was awarded the win. In 1938, Porthos, ridden by Noël Pelat, was demoted to  third place “for having obstructed Evohé II and Baron d'Urfé on several occasions.”

The double has been done eight times by Evohé II (1937, 1938), Wild Risk (1944, 1945), Hardatit (1972, 1973), Paiute (1979, 1980), Le Rheusois (1985, 1986), Ubu III (1992, 1993), Le Sauvignon (2000, 2001), Thousand Stars (2011, 2012) and Gemix (2013, 2014).

In 1947, the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil was won by ten lengths by the 5-year-old Le Paillon, who, on the flat, would triumph in the Grand Prix de Deauville in August and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.

In 2010, the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil was won by Mandali, wearing the colours of the Ecurie Zingaro and ridden by Christophe Soumillon – a successful flat jockey. This was only the second time that Soumillon had competed in a jumps race.

The Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil and the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris

Only three horses have managed to win both these races, their win over the hurdles preceding that in Auteuil’s flagship steeplechase. They are Blagueur II (1910-1911), Loreto (1958-1963) and Ubu III (1992, 1993-1995). Princesse D’Anjou did come close in 2006, however, finishing 2nd in the Grande Course de Haies just two lengths behind Mid Dancer and winning the Grand Steeple.  Mid Dancer also triumphed in the 2007, 2011 and 2012 Grand Steeple but was beaten into second place in the 2008 Grande Course de Haies by Oeil de Maitre.



  • Daniel Wildenstein (6 wins): Gopal (1969), Top Gear (1977), Paiute (1979, 1980), World Citizen (1982) & Vaporetto (1999) ;
  • Arthur Veil-Picard (5 wins): Blagueur II (1910), Don Zuniga (1928), Le Bouif (1930), Baoulé (1931) & Lands End (1933) ;
  • Georges Ledat (3 wins): Saint Claude (1890), Augure (1891) & Charlatan (1895).

In 1906, the mare Fragilité, owned, trained and ridden by Percy Woodland, won the race.


  • William Head (8 wins): Evohé II (1937, 1938), Royal Kidney (1939), Ludovic le More (1943), Vatelys (1946), Le Paillon (1947), Septième Ciel (1948) & Friendship (1959) ;
  • Georges Pelat (5 wins): Ouf (1963), Santo Pietro (1964), Rivoli (1967), Top Gear (1977) & Paiute (1979) ;
  • Willie Mullins (5 wins): Nobody Told Me (2003), Rule Supreme (2004), Thousand Stars (2011, 2012) & Bénie des Dieux (2019) ;
  • Wallace Davis (4 wins): Blagueur II (1910), Don Zuniga (1928), Le Bouif (1930) & Baoulé (1931) ;
  • Henri Gleizes (4 wins): Verdi (1951), Prince Hindou (1952), Frascati (1953) & Elégant (1955) ;
  • André Adèle (4 wins): Miror (1962), Orvilliers (1968), Baby Taine (1974) & Mazel Tov (1975) ;
  • Jean-Paul Gallorini (4 wins): Goodea (1988), Vaporetto (1999), Œil du Maître (2008) & Mandali (2010).
  • François Nicolle (3 wins): De Bon Cœur (2018), L'Autonomie (2021), Hermès Baie (2022).
  • Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé (3 wins): Mid Dancer (2006), Zaiyad (2007), Thélème (2023).


  • John Boon (4 wins): Vertige (1894), Charlatan (1895), Grandlieu (1898) et Kérym (1899) ;
  • Harry Howes (3 wins): Largo (1929), Lord Byron (1934) et Céréaliste (1936) ;
  • Dominique Costard (3 wins): Top Gear (1977), Paiute (1980) et Bison Futé (1981).