JC / Railbird

Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

Dans La Famille

Ryan Goldberg profiles the remarkable Criquette Head-Maarek:

… as far back as the age of 5, Head-Maarek said, she told her father she wanted to be a trainer. “One day he said to me, ‘You marry a trainer, but you won’t be a trainer because there are no women trainers,”’ she recalled.

But in 1978, after four years as her father’s assistant, Head-Maarek was granted a training license by the French racing authorities, the first for a woman. Her father gave her 35 of his own horses, and success quickly followed. Owners such as Prince Khalid bin Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the late emir of Dubai, sent her horses. She remains the only woman to train an Arc winner.

This part of her story reminds me a bit of trainer Linda Rice:

A proud “my father’s daughter,” she’s the youngest of trainer Clyde Rice’s four children and the only girl. She began helping at her dad’s stable in grammar school. She walked horses, then exercised them. At 17, as they drove back from a Keeneland horse sale, a major accident blocked their route for hours.

That’s when Rice revealed her career path. She turned to her dad and confessed, “I want to be a trainer, just like you.”

Clyde Rice measured his response before speaking it. He told her, “That career would be a lot easier if you were one of my sons.”

Rice won the Easy Goer Stakes with Kid Cruz, eighth in the Preakness Stakes and a former $50K claimer, on Belmont Stakes day.

More Head-Maarek in the Guardian: “We’ll take my Rolls-Royce …

6/10/15 Addendum: Gai Waterhouse, daughter of Australian trainer T.J. Smith, shares a similar story as Head-Maarek and Rice about going out on her own:

Over the next 10 years I saw the likes of Kingston Town and Red Anchor come and go from my father’s stable, Tulloch Lodge, and eventually I decided I could take the next step and become a horse trainer in my own right. TJ was very reserved about me becoming a trainer; he felt it would be too hard for me to obtain owners, purchase yearlings and make my mark. My father thought I would be much better off working under him for the time being as his PR girl and trackwork supervisor. But like most young people, I could not be swayed. I had an idea in my head and I could not be stopped. TJ was telling the truth, and he knew it would be an uphill battle for me to forge a career on my own.

She has succeeded.

Related: Miss Mary, Licensed Trainer (7/8/10).

Top of the World

This is how good Treve was winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe:

An RPR of 130 is bang on average for an Arc winner, but, if we factor in her 1.5kg (3.3lb) fillies’ allowance, it would have taken a 134+ performance from a colt to have beaten her on Sunday — and the last Arc winner to achieve that sort of figure was six-length winner Sakhee back in 2001.

Clash of the Champions(hips)

There is something absurd about the plethora of top class turf events in the month that begins with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and ends with the Breeders’ Cup, now that Champions Day is part of the international calendar. But is a meta championship really the answer?

An International Triple Crown

Greg Wood commenting on his column re: the Arc or America dilemma:

For as long as Champions Day sits between Paris and America, it will force owners to send a horse to two out of three, and the benefit of extra time to recover means that will, in many cases, be the events on either side of Ascot.

It’s just stupid that they should need to choose at all. Put Champions Day in the right place and you have the makings of a modern Triple Crown, on offer to a horse that can win at Ascot, Longchamp and then in America. What an achievement that would be.

Indeed! It’s hard not to like a proposed schedule that makes the Breeders’ Cup the culmination of a top-tier international season, but there’s a disjunction between audiences that weakens the likelihood of such a set-up, even if the BHA succeeded in finessing the scheduling issues involved — the BC dirt races don’t stir Euro passion, and the turf races are secondary to Americans. On this side of the Atlantic, whether Champions Day is in September or October is all the same to many fans. On the other side, the question is why bother?

It’s the Same All Over*

Greg Wood on Sir Michael Stoute’s post-Arc reticence:

It was a reminder that for all the good intentions at Racing For Change, the attitude that the punters do not really matter will always have the upper hand until the Stoute generation makes way for younger, less-blinkered trainers.

My only quibble is that it’s about mindset, not age.

*Borrowed from Equidaily.