Maurice Gillois 4yo Chase History: The revelation

5 November 2020

Maurice Gillois 4yo Chase History: The revelation


The top 4-year-old Chase of the Autumn, the Prix Maurice Gillois bears the name of one of the most influential masters of Auteuil and it is also probably the race which revealed the most champion chasers in France, from Cyborg and Katko to Milord Thomas and So French, including The Fellow and Al Capone II …

November, Auteuil



Group 1, 4-year-olds, Steeple-Chase, 4,400m/2m6f, €220,000

Created in 1941

Last winner: Le Berry (g4, FRA by Gemix ex Kalberry, by Kaldounevees), owned by Gemini Stud, Ecurie de Roebeck, Benjamin Teboul & David Cottin, bred by Mrs Édouard Decazes & Louis Lemétayer, trained by David Cottin, ridden by Kevin Nabet.

The race is run in 2021 for the 81st time

The 2020 edition

Sunday, November 8, 2020, Auteuil. - As usual, Le Berry (Gemix) started as the favourite in the €220,000 Maurice Gillois 4yo Chase (Gr1), the "Grand Steeple-Chase des 4ans", and he left no one in charge of leading the 2m6f chase of Auteuil. Closely followed by Magrudy (Doctor Dino) and Galleo Conti (Poliglote), the Gemini Stud homebred sired by their champion hurdler Gemix jumped the penultimate obstacle of the course, the Double Barrière, in the lead. Yet, he hadn't put daylight between him and his challengers, that is the two aforementioned horses plus Gardons le Sourire (Fame and Glory), and it looked like there could finally be some kind of struggle there. But that was only a fluke: the grey accelerated and soon, all of his rivals gave in, as he soared to win the race by eight lengths. Galleo Conti finished the best to grab the second place ahead of Magrudy, two and a half lengths behind, and Gardons Le Sourire, who levelled off to finish.

This is Le Berry's first Group 1 success, and his sixth since his chasing debut, a discipline in which he is still undefeated.

Le Berry's dam, Kalberry (Kaldounevees), ran on the flat and finished fourth in the Prix de Flore (Gr3) for her breeder, Mrs Édouard Decazes. The mare's first offspring, Berryville (Poliglote), won the Grand Prix de Pau Chase (Gr3) twice after placing in the Derby de l'Ouest. He is from the family of Melbourne Cup (Gr1), Caulfied Cup (Gr1) and Hong Kong Vase (Gr1) winner Dunaden.


First run in 1941 as the Grand Steeple-Chase des 4 Ans – a description it retains as a subtitle – it became the Prix Maurice Gillois in 1950 to honour the memory of one of the leading figures within the Société des Steeple-Chases de France. Originally part of Auteuil’s summer card, it was switched with the Prix Ferdinand Dufaure in 1961 and consequently took up a November slot. Due to this fact, it has had the role of crowning the season’s top chaser.

The Prix Maurice Gillois has only been won by six winners of the Prix Ferdinand Dufaure: Bonosnap (1955), Katko (1987), As des Carrés (1991), Cyrlight (2004), Or Noir de Somoza (2006) and Oculi (2008).

However, the race has served as a springboard to success in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. The double has been done by 14 horses: Méli Mélo (1946), Farfatch (1954), Bonosnap (1955), Cousin Pons (1960), Huron (1968), Pot d'Or (1970), Katko (1987), El Triunfo (1990), Al Capone II (1992), Mandarino (1997), Milord Thomas (2013), So French (2015), On the Go (2017) et Carriacou (2016). Moreover, no less than seven horses placed in the Prix Maurice Gillois have gone on to triumph in the showcase steeplechase at Auteuil: Bouzoulou (2nd in 1947), Pharamond III (2nd in 1950), Cacao (2nd in 1965), Morgex (2nd in 1968), Fondeur (3rd in 1977), The Fellow (3rd in 1989) and Ucello II (2nd in 1990).

Two horses have achieved the feat of being the best 4-year-old in both specialities, by recording successive victories in the Prix Maurice Gillois (steeplechase) and the Prix Renaud du Vivier (hurdles). The first was Bayonnet in 1983, owned by Georges Blizniansky, trained by André Fabre and ridden by Alain Chelet. The second was Or Noir de Somoza in 2006, owned by Sean Mulryan, trained by Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé and ridden by Christophe Pieux. In 2004, Cyrlight tried to emulate him but had to content himself with second place in the Prix Renaud du Vivier behind Maia Eria.

Colonel Maurice Gillois (1857-1949)

A Société de Sport de France board member from 1887, he was appointed to the committee of the Société des Steeples on 10 April 1904, before being made a steward on 18 December 1918. After becoming an executive director on 27 March 1919, he was appointed vice-chairman on 23 December 1941. For a thirty-year period, he was the “technician” of the Société des Steeples, responsible in particular for the tracks and jumps at Auteuil and the training ground at Maisons-Laffitte. It was he who created Auteuil’s external steeplechase course opened in 1924. Chairman Cambacérès said of him: "He had the very rare gift of combining an almost intransigent firmness with the most delicate heart and incredible sensitivity. As demanding of himself as he was of his subordinates, he was unforgiving of any weakness and the sanctions he was called upon to impose hit hard." Consequently, he was a steward feared by trainers and jockeys alike.



  • Jean Stern (3 wins): Le Radar (1950), Florianet (1958) & Cousin Pons (1960) ;
  • Sean Mulryan (3 wins): Cyrlight (2004), Polivalente (2005) & Or Noir de Somoza (2006).
  • Jacques Détré (3 wins): Bipbap (1998), Oculi (2008), Figuero (2019).


  • Guillaume Macaire (8 wins): Positron (1995), Bipbap (1998), Douze Douze (2000), Japhet (2001), Long Run (2009), So French (2015), On the Go (2017), Cicalina (2018) ;
  • Georges Pelat (7 wins): Point Bleu (1947), Bonosnap (1955), Antonino (1956), Le Ponant II (1962), Rivoli (1965), Regency Rake (1972) & Fine Danse (1977) ;
  • André Adèle (4 wins): Missouri (1957), Spirou (1963), Tancredo (1966) & Huron (1968)
  • Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé (3 wins): Cyrlight (2004), Polivalente (2005) & Or Noir de Somoza (2006) ;
  • François-Marie Cottin (3 wins): Oculi (2008), Utopie des Bordes (2012) & Royale Flag (2014).


  • Roger Obry (3 wins): Spanky (1953), Antonino (1956) & Missouri (1957) ;
  • Denis Bailliez (3 wins): Nazgul (1979), Sweet Virginia (1981) & Nous Aussi (1982) ;
  • Patrice Lemaire (3 wins): Rosator (1978), Miss Tracy (1980) & Trypolo (1985) ;
  • Philippe Sourzac (3 wins): Positron (1995), Bipbap (1998) & Cyrlight (2004) ;
  • Christophe Pieux (3 wins): Polivalente (2005), Or Noir de Somoza (2006) & Kauto Stone (2010).