Harcourt History: ParisLongchamp's opener

7 April 2024

Harcourt 24 Zarakem

Photo scoopdyga.com

The first Group 2 in the French season, run over 10 furlongs at ParisLongchamp, the Prix d'Harcourt gather older horses on their way to the Prix Ganay (Gr1), sometimes after a comeback in the Prix Exbury (Gr3) three weeks earlier, but also sometimes to start a new season.

April, ParisLongchamp

Prix d'Harcourt


Group 2, 4-year-olds and above, 2,000m or 1m1/4, €130,000

Created in 1929

Last winner: Zarakem (c4, FRA by Zarak ex Harem Mistress, by Mastercraftsman), Owned by Écurie Benaroussi Sofiane, Haras d'Etreham, bred by Jean-Paul Cayrouze, trained by Jérôme Reynier, ridden by Maxime Guyon.

Record time: 1'58''77 by Cloth of Stars in 2017 (Chantilly), 2’1’’35 by Giofra in 2012 (Longchamp).

The race will be run for the 97th time in 2025

The 2024 edition

Sunday, 7 April 2024, ParisLongchamp Racecourse (Paris) – Winning five consecutive races for owner Jean-Claude Seroul last year at 3, including the Prix Frédéric de Lagrange (L) at Vichy and La Coupe de Marseille (L), Zarakem (Zarak) was subsequently sold for €500,000 at the Arc sale to Nicolas Bertran de Balanda for the Écurie Sofiane Benaroussi. Following this, the horse finished 6th in the Prix du Conseil de Paris (Gr2) over 1m3f.

175 days later, he tried his luck again at ParisLongchamp, but over 1m2f and on a very heavy turf in the €130,000 Prix d’Harcourt (Gr2), the final step towards the €300,000 Prix Ganay (Gr1), the first Group 1 of the French season, in three weeks.

Well-placed in fifth during the race, the 4-year-old colt moved forward to challenge and take over Birr Castle (Cloth of Stars), the early challenger, and Horizon Doré (Dabirsim), who came from the last position in the middle of the course. He steadily outpaced his two rivals, showing great courage to hold off Horizon Doré, who had the advantage of having already made a seasonal return.

Zarakem finally won by one and a half lengths ahead of Horizon Doré with Birr Castle 3rd, less than a length behind. The favourite Feed the Flame (Kingman) tried to gain ground on the inside but couldn't maintain his effort.

The winner was bred in Calvados by Jean-Paul Cayrouze. His dam Harem Mistress (Mastercraftsman) did not race, and Zarakem is her 2nd foal. He was sold for €85,000 as a yearling to Alain Décrion and Mandore Agency for Jean-Claude Seroul. The 2nd dam is twice Group 3 placed, and there are a lot of black types under the 3rd dam.

Following Zarakem, Harem Mistress produced Ouro Preto (Wootton Bassett), still a maiden after four starts, the 2-year-old filly Rabbit’s Foot (Golden Horde), in training with François Rohaut, and a yearling filly by Victor Ludorum.



The Prix d’Harcourt was set up in 1929 in memory of an influential owner-breeder who also reached the position of committee president at the Société D’Encouragement (read below). Customarily taking place at Longchamp, the Prix d’Harcourt has been held at other racecourses on five occasions: in autumn 1940 at Auteuil, at Maisons-Lafitte in 1943 and 1944, and at Chantilly in 2016 and 2017. Its distance has also been subject to numerous changes from 10 to 12 furlongs, and it's set at 2,000m/1m2f since 1971. In 2020, as racing had been halted by a coronavirus pandemic, the race was held on May 11, 2020, on the day the lockdown was lifted for racing in France.

Four winners of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe also won the Prix d'Harcourt. They are Djebel (1941, 1942), Allez France (1974), Three Troikas (1980) and Urban Sea (1994). There is also an Epsom Derby winner (Pearl Diver 1948) and three victors of the Prix de Diane (Mary Tudor 1935, Pistol Packer 1972, Allez France 1974). However, there are no winners of the Prix du Jockey Club to be found.

Vienna (1962), trained at Epsom by Walter Nightingall, won the race wearing the colours of Sir Winston Churchill. It was the first time a foreign-trained horse won the race, until Roger Charlton's Al Kazeem in 2015.

Originally scheduled to take place a few weeks after the Prix des Sablons (latterly Prix Ganay), which marked the reopening of Longchamp at the beginning of April, in 1970 the Prix d'Harcourt was moved ahead of its counterpart in the racing calendar. An outing provisionally for 4 year-olds and over, the Prix d’Harcourt is now run at the beginning of April, about 3 weeks after the Prix Exbury (Gr3) which is held at the beginning of March at Saint-Cloud, and three weeks before the Prix Ganay (Gr1), whose distance has been lengthened to 1 mile 2 ½ furlongs.

A distinguished double triumph has been pulled off on a number of occasions, but not always in the same year. In the order Ganay-Harcourt, it has been achieved six times, by Amfortas (1932-1931), Victrix (1938), Djebel (1942-1941, 1942), Tanerko (1957, 1958-1958), Carmarthen (1969-1968) and Grandier (1970-1969). In the order Harcourt-Ganay, it has been achieved eleven times, by Caro (1971), Allez France (1974-1974, 1975), Trillion (1979-1978), Argument (1981), Lancastrian (1982-1983), Marildo (1993, 1994), Valanour (1996), Astarabad (1998), Dark Moondancer (1999), Indian Danehill (2000), Cutlass Bay (2010), Planteur (2011) and Cloth of Stars (2017).

Emmanuel d’Harcourt (1844-1928) 

After carrying out the role of general secretary of the Presidency of the Republic in 1873, before working as the secretary of the French Embassy in Vienna, he handed in his notice after the resignation of Marshall MacMahon in 1879 and moved away from the world of diplomacy and politics. He became an avid follower of the racing scene and, after the death of Edouard Fould in 1881, he bought a share in the Duc de Castries’ yard in association with the Baron de Soubeyran. Part of this stable was made up of returns from the then defunct Saint-Georges stud farm in the Allier. After Castries’ passing in 1886, this partnership was continued under the management of Soubeyran until it went into liquidation in 1890. It was then that Emmanuel d’Harcourt, who had since married Castries’ widow, declared his personal colours (red jersey, gold jodhpurs, red cap) and took over the Saint-Georges stud farm (see Prix de Saint-Georges entry). The following year in 1891, he had the stallion Gulliver (Richmond Stakes at Goodwood, and Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot) brought over from England to reside at Saint-Georges, and that same year he was elected a committee member at the Société D’Encouragement. He would later join the Société’s sub-committee in 1896 and performed the role of racing commissioner between 1899 and 1905. He was also a member of the board of directors at Le Gaulois newspaper.

His best horses were Idalie (1889, Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte), Odin (1889, eight wins aged 2 and 3 years, including victory at the Prix du Commerce in Milan and the Prix Prince Amedée in Turin as a 3-year-old, and in the Grand Prix du Printemps at Auteuil for Georges Ledat as a 4-year-old), L'Hérault (1891, Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte), Addy (1892, ten wins as a 3-year-old, including the Grand Prix de la Ville de Lyon, and two wins as a 4-year-old, including La Coupe at Longchamp), Cherbourg (1892, another winner of the Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte that at 3 years old won the Prix Noailles and came second in the Prix du Jockey Club and the Grand Prix de Paris , and as a 4-year-old tasted victory at the Prix La Rochette), Olmutz (1893, seven victories between 2 and 4 years-old including the Prix du Cadran, a second-place finish in the Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte, the Prix Daru, stood at stud in Tarbes), Le Guide (1895, Prix Noailles), Kerlaz (1897, at 3 years of age he was the first winner of the Grand Prix du Cercle International de Vichy, latterly the Grand Prix), Saint Armel (1898, seven victories between the ages of 2 and 4, which included wins as a 3-year-old at the Prix Hocquart, Derby du Midi, Prix La Rochette, an in-the-frame finish at the Prix Royal Oak, and a fourth place in the Grand Prix de Paris. He stood at stud in Cluny, and sired the excellent show-jumper Rosette XIV), Exéma (1899, 15 wins between the ages of 3 and 5 including the Prix d'Ispahan, Prix Monarque, Prix du Prince de Galles, Prix du Pin, the Grand Prix de Baden-Baden and a third-place finish behind La Camargo in the Prix du Conseil Municipal, and stood at stud in Pompadour), Holbein (1905, Prix Lupin, Poule d'Essai de Pau, third in the Prix Royal Oak), Italus (1906, ten wins between the ages of 3 and 5 including the Derby du Midi, Prix Dollar, Hédouville, a second place in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, Prix La Forêt, Prix d'Ispahan), Amadou (1910, Prix Saint-Roman, Prix du Petit Couvert as a 2-year-old, La Coupe, Prix La Force and third in the Prix du Président de la République as a 3-year-old) and Ecouen (1910, three wins aged 2, including the Grand Critérium; three wins aged 3, the Prix des Cars, the Prix Daru, and the Prix Lupin, second in the Poule d'Essai and the Prix du Président de la République, third in the Grand Prix de Paris; four wins aged 4, the Prix La Force, Prix Edgard Gillois, Prix de Dangu, Prix Seymour, and third place in the Prix du Cadran). The latter two horses enabled him to take fourth and ninth place in the owners’ rankings in 1913 and 1914 respectively. All of his horses were bred either at the Saint-Georges stud, or at the Marly-la-Ville stud in Seine-en-Oise, bought from George Arnaud in 1910.

In the wake of the Great War, in 1920 d’Harcourt took over the presidency of the Société d’Encouragement committee from the Prince d’Arenberg. From that point forth he devoted little time to racing, preferring to occupy himself with breeding and showing his produce at yearling sales. His most notable yearlings were Trésigny (sold in Deauville in 1923 for a record price of 250,000 French Francs and a third-place finisher in the 1925 Poule d'Essai des Poulains) and the outstanding mare Maguelonne, who took the laurels at the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris in 1928. Suffering from poor health, d’Harcourt sold off his breeding stock of 25 animals at a sale at the Chéri auction house in Saint-James on 26 October 1925 and in 1926 he handed over his presidency of the Société d'Encouragement, of which he was subsequently made honorary president, to Paul de Pourtalès. He died on 18 September 1928. The journal Le Jockey said of him: “He was of the belief that elegance is the essence of racing, and he sought to uphold the values of good taste and honesty which he felt were indispensable. […] He went on to become a valuable link between the ideas of the past and the future.”



  • The Wildensteins (8 wins): Yelapa (1970), Allez France (1974), Liloy (1976), Grand Pavois (1987), Star Lift (1989) & Freedom Cry (1995) for Daniel, then Loup Breton (2008) and Planteur (2011) for the Wildenstein family.
  • Marcel Boussac (4 wins): Djebel (1941, 1942), Tifinar (1943) & Priam (1945). 
  • Guy de Rothschild (4 wins): Violoncelle (1950), Alizier (1951), Tropique (1956) & Tang (1963). 
  • François Dupré (3 wins): Faubourg (1953), Tanerko (1958) & Régent (1960). 
  • Mohammed Al Maktoum (4 wins): Creator (1990), Panoramic (1991) & Earlene (2001), then three times as Godolphin with Cutlass Bay (2010), Cloth of Stars (2017) & Ghaiyyath (2019).


  • André Fabre (10 wins): Saint Estèphe (1986), Village Star (1988), Star Lift (1989), Creator (1990), Panoramic (1991), Freedom Cry (1995), Indian Danehill (2000), Manduro (2006), Cutlass Bay (2010) & Cloth of Stars (2017). 
  • Geoffroy Watson (5 wins): Victrix (1938), Violoncelle (1950), Alizier (1951), Tropique (1956) & Tang (1963). 
  • Alain de Royer-Dupré (5 wins): Valanour (1996), Astarabad (1998), Dark Moondancer (1999), Vangelis (2004) & Giofra (2012).
  • François Mathet (4 wins): Faubourg (1953), Tanerko (1958), Régent (1960) & Kasteel (1977). 
  • Percy Carter (3 wins): Djebel (1941), Pearl Diver (1948), Gérocourt (1954).
  • Charles Semblat (3 wins): Djebel (1942), Tifinar (1943), Priam (1945).
  • Max Bonaventure (3 wins): Franc Luron (1959), Frontin (1965), Sigebert (1966).
  • Jérôme Reynier (3 wins): Skalleti (2021, 2022), Zarakem (2024).


  • Yves Saint-Martin (5 wins): Régent (1960), Allez France (1974), Liloy (1976), Welsh Term (1983) & Strawberry Road (1985).
  • Stéphane Pasquier (5 wins): Manduro (2006), Trincot (2009), Maxios (2013), Smoking Sun (2014) & Garlingari (2016). 
  • Gérald Mossé (5 wins): Valanour (1996), Astarabad (1998), Dark Moondancer (1999), Earlene (2001), Skalleti (2021). 
  • Freddy Head (4 wins): Cadmus (1967), Pistol Packer (1972), Card King (1975) & Three Troikas (1980). 
  • Christophe Soumillon (4 wins): Ana Marie (2003), Vangelis (2004), Planteur (2011), Air Pilot (2018).
  • Maxime Guyon (5 wins): Cutlass Bay (2010), Giofra (2012), Shaman (2020), Skalleti (2022), Zarakem (2024).