Horse racing in France – Part 2
The strength of French horse racing is reflected in the number of runners and riders that are sent to compete in other countries. There is also a number of trainers who, over the years, have produced a consistent number of top quality horses. And there has been no better horse than Gladiateur.
In 1861 he travelled to England to win the Derby, the 2000 Guineas and the St Ledger, then returned the following year to claim the Ascot Gold Cup. When the colt was young, he was sent to Newmarket to be trained by Tom Jennings, but he still returned to France in 1865 to win the Grand Prix de Paris.
Recently, French horses have also won classic races abroad. In 2010 Americano, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre , has won the Melbourne Cup. The Normandy based trainer and breeder has had a successful career during which he has won each French Classic race at least twice.
He has also won big races in Italy, England and Ireland. One of his best horses was Zarkava who was never beaten in a long career that saw the horse win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe plus 4 other group 1 races.
Another trainer who achieved great success at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was Criquette Head-Marek. In the 1979 she trained Three Troikas to victory in the race with the horse being ridden by her brother Freddy and owned by her mother Ghislaine Head.
In her career she achieved remarkable successes in classic races, including 5 wins in the English 1000 Guineas. One of her most successful horses was Ma Biche who won the 1000 Guineas in 1982. As well as winning the English classic, the American bred mare also won the Cheveley Park Stakes, the Prix Robert Papin and the Prix de la Foret.
Freddy Head was France’s champion Jockey for 6 seasons. He is the only person ever to train a winner at the Breeder’s Cup mile, having already won it as a jockey. As a jockey, he recorded many classic victories including Four Prix de l’Arcs de Triomphe and victories in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas.
Today there are few French trainers more successful than Jean Claude Rouget. The former jockey is now the trainer to a number of great horses, and he has achieved numerous successes in France, England and Ireland.
However, all of the trainers mentioned play second fiddle in France to Andre Fabre, the man who has won 24 French Champion Trainer Titles, with 21 of these being consecutive between 1987 and 2007. He has been equally successful both in France and overseas. He has won 4 Breeder’s Cups in America, and numerous victories in England have seen him win the 2000 Guineas twice, the 1000 Guineas, the Coronation Cup. The Pour Moi in 2011 completed his life ambition with the Derby win.
At home he holds a record of 7 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe titles and has won the other French classic races on numerous occasions. One of the most famous races in the country is the Grand Prix de Paris and he has trained horses to victory 13 times.
The quality of the horse breeding and training in France is reflected in how well the horses have performed in the classic races both at home and overseas. Some of the world’s greatest horses have been French.