JC / Railbird


Dreamy Trêve

Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek blows a kiss after Treve wins the 2015 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud

Trêve is traveling well towards a third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday by 1 1/4 lengths over classy Flintshire. Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek (above) said after that she was quite confident:

“I was never worried. She was a little on her toes before the race but Thierry rode her beautifully. I’m delighted as Flintshire is a very good horse. It’s just a dream.”

The Saint-Cloud was the 5-year-old mare’s second win in as many starts this year, a much more promising record than her early 2014 campaign — she was 0-for-2 at this time last year en route to her second Arc victory.

On avait le terrain un peu trop ferme pour elle mais on dit que les bons chevaux vont dans tous les terrains,” said jockey Thierry Jarnet of Trêve’s effort. Google Translate comes to the aid of my high school French to reveal that he was saying something along the lines of, “The ground was a little too firm for her, but they say good horses go in any condition.” Watch the replay:

More on the Saint-Cloud: “Flintshire famously loves a fast surface and he will surely never have a better chance of turning over Treve.”

Fantastic Fugue

The Prince of Wales’s Stakes ended in a new course record time of 2:01.90 and a reversal of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf finish when The Fugue kicked clear to win by two lengths over Magician. “She’s proved what she can do to everybody,” said rider William Buick of the 5-year-old mare. “When she gets an uncomplicated run, she’s lethal.” She certainly was: Watch the replay.

Heavily favored Arc winner Trêve finished third. Jockey Frankie Dettori said the filly didn’t feel right from the start: “I was never in a comfort zone.” Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, observing that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, called the beat “a French defeat,” and said, “Maybe we’ll find something wrong. We have lost the battle, not the war.”

7/11/14 Update: She broke a record, finished sixth next time out, and now The Fugue has been retired due to injury. “I’ll never forget her,” says Buick.

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.