Prix Pénélope History: Early ticket to the Diane

31 March 2022

Agave et Olivier Peslier s'imposent à l'arrivée du Prix Pénélope (Gr3) 2022 sur l'hippodrome de Saint-Cloud.


April, Saint-Cloud

Prix Pénélope


Group3, 3yo Fillies, 2,100m/1m2 1/2f, €80,000

Created in 1905


Last winner: Agave, f3 GB by Dubawi ex Contribution (Champs Elysees), owned by Succession Khalid Abdullah, bred by Juddmonte, trained by André Fabre, ridden by Olivier Peslier.

Record time: 2'13''08 by Luminate in 2018.

The race will be run for the 113th time in 2023


The 2022 edition

Saturday, April 2, 2022, Saint-Cloud Racecourse (Hauts-de-Seine). - The odds-on favourite Agave (Dubawi), now unbeaten in three races, won convincingly by three parts of a length in the Prix Pénélope (Gr3), one of the first prep races for the Prix de Diane Longines (French Oaks, Gr1), in two and a half months. Homebred in Britain by the late Khalid Abdullah, the winner is the 9th winner in this contest trained by André Fabre, just a year after her stablemate Philomène, who went on to finish an unlucky 2nd in the French Oaks.

Ridden by Olivier Peslier, Agave travelled second last in this 7-runners field and made her move entering the last straight as she loomed outside the pack led by Welcome Sight (Aclaim) to sustain a long, irrepressible effort. She gave the feeling that the race was hers all the way as around her, the heat was on for the placings, Queen Trezy (Almanzor), more patient early in the race, went to snatch second place by a head over a resolute Anne de Clèves (Wootton Bassett), who never gave in. She’s Cosmic (Sea The Stars) and Allada (Sea the Moon), however, seemed to fade a bit after an early rush forward. They had to settle for 4th and 5th places respectively, over a length behind the leading trio.

Winner first time out at Longchamp over the mile in September, Agave also won for her return, by three lengths in the Prix Rose de Mai (L) over 1m2f, as the well-exposed Anne de Clèves, a dual handicap winner last Winter, had finished 3rd about three lengths behind.

Agave is the second foal out of Contribution (Champs Elysees), who started her career at 3 over 1m4f and more and bloomed at 4 to finish 3rd in the Shadwell Prix de Pomone (Gr2), over 2,500 metres, for example. Her first foal, Destinado (Lope de Vega), now 4, didn’t fare that well and finished almost last in his 4 last outings in Britain after being bought for £30,000 at Tattersalls in July 2021.

As for Contribution, she’s a sister to the great Enable! According to Tattersalls’s catalogue, she’s got a Golden Horn filly born in 2020 and a Study of Man colt born in 2021.



This race was created in 1905. Reserved for 3-year-old fillies and generally run in early April, it consequently constitutes the first stage en route to the Prix de Diane two months later. Its distance of 1 mile 2 ½ furlongs has remained unchanged since 1950, after varying slightly prior to that date (1 mile 2 furlongs from 1905 to 1943, 1 mile 2 ½ furlongs in 1944 and 1945, 1 mile 2 furlongs from 1946 to 1949).

Originally organised at Maisons-Laffitte, the Prix Pénélope was transferred to Saint-Cloud in 1927, where it had been already been run once in 1921. Due to the two world wars, it was not held from 1915 to 1919 and then transferred to Longchamp from 1940 to 1942 and to Maisons-Laffitte from 1943 to 1945. It wasn't run in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Winners of the Prix Pénélope have played an important role in the Prix de Diane. First place at Chantilly has been claimed by: Flowershop (1920), Féerie (1938), Pirette (1946), Dushka (1958), Timandra (1960), Hermières (1961), Roselière (1968), Rescousse (1972) and Pawneese (1976). In runners-up spot have come: Saïs (1906), Zariba (1922), Isola Bella (1924), Sylvanire (1937), Longthanh (1941), Esmeralda (1942), Raïta (1945), Saraca (1969), Smuggly (1983), Abbatiale (1998), Volvoreta (2000), Germance (2006), Mrs Lindsay (2007), Gagnoa (2008), Sistercharlie (2017) and Philomène (2021). The 3rd-place finishers have been: Fiasque (1923), Tanaïs (1928), Rarity (1934), Clairvoyante (1935), Royalebuchy (1936), Pampa Bella (1984), Air de Rien (1990) and Brilliance (1997).

Winners of the Prix Pénélope have found the English Derby at Epsom a fertile hunting ground, garnering four victories through Brulette (1931), Sun Cap (1954), Monade (1962) and Pawneese (1976).

At the Curragh in Ireland, the 1993 Irish Oaks went the way of Wemyss Bight, who had previously prevailed in the Prix Pénélope.

Lastly, in the Prix Vermeille, the Prix Pénélope winners have ten victories to their name, courtesy of Isola Bella (1924), Longthanh (1941), Folle Nuit (1943), Pirette (1946), Janiari (1956), Monade (1962), Roselière (1968), Saraca (1969), All Along (1982), Volvoreta (2000) and Mrs Lindsay (2007).



Rather than the wife of Ulysses from Greek legend, this race celebrates the memory both of a famous French filly and one of the greatest English broodmares, a branch of whose lineage has been particularly prominent in French racing.

The French horse, Pénélope (1820, by Don Cossack and Helen), distinguished herself with a victory on 5 September 1824 in the Prix Royal, the principal event held at the Champ-de-Mars during the Restoration. She bore the colours of the Duc de Guiche, who was in charge of the royal Meudon stud. Her descendants, however, did not have successful racing careers.

In the 3rd volume of Bobinski’s Family tables of racehorses, there are five Penelope’s listed (in the English spelling without an accent), plus three Penelope IIs. While all have at least one good horse among their descendants, one stands head and shoulders above the rest. Born in 1798 at the Duke of Grafton’s stables by Trumpator and Prunella, she was regarded as “the most epoch-making mare in the Stud Book”, triumphing in eighteen races and producing three Classic winners: Whalebone (1807, Derby and influential stallion), Whisker (1812, Derby) and Whizgig (1819, Thousand Guineas). The latter’s progeny included Oxygen (1828, Oaks) one of whose daughters, Currency (1837 by St Patrick), was imported into France in 1844 by Auguste Lupin. This acquisition proved highly beneficial for the great French breeder, as Currency offered him two Classic winners: Saint Germain (1847, by Attila) winner of the Jockey Club, and Jouvence (1850, by Sting), who did the Diane-Jockey Club double. In addition to this rare performance, Jouvence pulled off the feat of going and winning the Goodwood Cup a few days later, thereby becoming the first French horse to win a prestigious race across the Channel. This exploit had a big impact on French racing and, at the start of the 20th century, encouraged the Société Sportive d’Encouragement, which ran Maisons-Laffitte racecourse, to give the name of Jouvence’s glorious ancestor Pénélope to a race reserved for fillies (with an accent on this side of the Channel!).

Moreover, French breeding also owes a further debt to this Penelope, albeit through the intermediary of Cavatina (1845), a sister to Currency, for some other excellent horses like Sauterelle (1883, Prix du Cadran), Sibérie (1885, Prix du Cadran) and Listman (1911, Poule d’Essai), as well as for a jumps racing celebrity, Lutteur III (1904) the hero of the Grand National at Aintree in 1909.



  • Marcel Boussac (10 wins): Samic (1921), Zariba (1922), Diadème (1930), Canzoni (1939), Esmeralda (1942), Corseira (1950), Arbèle (1952), Adarca (1953), Janiari (1956), Demia (1977).
  • Edmond Blanc (3 wins): Muskerry (1905), Saïs (1906), Roselys (1914).
  • Guy de Rothschild (3 wins): Favreale (1959, dead-heat), Timandra (1960), Hermières (1961).
  • Daniel Wildenstein (3 wins): Pawneese (1976), All Along (1982), Muncie (1995).


  • André Fabre (9 wins): Trampoli (1992), Wemyss Bight (1993), Diamond Dance (1994), Muncie (1995), Tulipa (1996), Gagnoa (2008), Waldlerche (2012), Philomène (2021), Agave (2022).
  • Geoffroy Watson (7 wins): Favreale (1959, dead-heat), Timandra (1960), Hermières (1961), Hether (1970), Cigaline (1971), Rescousse (1972), Brave Ketty (1973)
  • Jean-Claude Rouget (4 wins): Ask for the Moon (2004), Germance (2006), Don’t Hurry Me (2011) et Cartiem (2019).


  • George Stern (5 wins): Muskerry (1905), Saïs (1906), Roselys (1914), Samic (1921), Zariba (1922).
  • William Johnstone (5 wins): La Futaie (1940), Sylphide (1947), Corseira (1950), Arbèle (1952), Sun Cap (1954).
  • Thierry Jarnet (5 wins): Madame est Sortie (1988), Wemyss Bight (1993), Diamond Dance (1994), Tulipa (1996), La Sylphide (1999).
  • Charles Semblat (4 wins): Carmélite (1927), Brulette (1931), Bipearl (1933), Rarity (1934).
  • Maxime Guyon (4 wins): Waldlerche (2012), Queen's Jewel (2015), Camprock (2016), Sistercharlie (2017).
  • Olivier Peslier (4 wins): Muncie (1995), Ferevia (2013), Luminate (2018), Agave (2022).
  • Arthur Esling (3 wins): Isola Bella (1924), Gandourah (1925), Tanaïs (1928).
  • André Rabbe (3 wins): Incessu Patuit (1932), Folle Nuit (1943), Chambrière (1944).
  • Alain Badel (3 wins): Smuggly (1983), Pampa Bella (1984), Air de Rien (1990).
  • Thierry Thulliez (3 wins): Volvoreta (2000), Humouresque (2003), Perfect Hedge (2005).
  • Stéphane Pasquier (3 wins): Ombre Légère (2002), Mrs Lindsay (2007), Gagnoa (2008).
  • Ioritz Mendizabal (3 wins): Ask for the Moon (2004), Germance (2006), Don’t Hurry Me (2011).