Freddie Head Carries On the Family Horse Racing Business

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What did you say to him afterward?

Thank you.

That’s it?

Yeah, that’s it.

What did he say to you?

He was very happy, very pleased. I knew he kept on training just for me, to give my career a start.

Photo

Head won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a record-tying four times.

Credit
lan Crowhurst/

What does it mean to share the record for most Arc wins by a jockey?

I am joined by the greatest names in the business. It is something to be proud of, very proud.

Was it difficult to make the transition from jockey to trainer?

It was a bit difficult. When you are a jockey, you are on your own. You have your saddle and your boots. And then suddenly you have a business with salaries. It takes a bit of time to adapt, but I was lucky enough to have good owners. I was blessed. I knew for a long time that I would be a trainer, so it wasn’t a surprise, really.

What is different about training a horse for the Arc?

There is nothing special. Maybe I work them a little longer, but I keep the speed in them.

What kind of horse is required to win the Arc?

You definitely need a horse that will stay the mile and a half and that is fresh, too. After a hard campaign in the spring, they get a bit tired and are not as sharp. You don’t need to run them in the summer, really. You give them a break after the spring.

The Arc has been described as “more a monument than a race.” Do you agree?

It is a race. But, of course, it is a monument because everybody knows what is the Arc. The world knows about the Arc de Triomphe.

Does it make a big difference that you are competing this year at Chantilly while renovations are completed at Longchamp?

Chantilly’s course is not as testing as Longchamp. The last turn is a bit sharp. You have to be well placed. They don’t come from too way back at Chantilly. Longchamp is a bigger turn, a very wide racecourse. You can do any tactics. You can lead or you can come from behind. It all depends on the pace. It’s a tougher course.

Photo

French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, right, congratulated Head after his win of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1979.

Credit
Keystone/Hulton Archive, via

Should geldings continue to be excluded?

I think so. The goal of horse racing is to get the best. If a gelding should win the Arc, I don’t know that it is a good thing for breeding.

What is the key to your family’s success?

My father gave us a taste of working. As a trainer, it’s a business where you have to be there and it’s patience, patience.

What does it mean to have your son, Christopher (age 30), as your assistant?

I’m very happy. I hope one day he will be a trainer himself.

How long has he worked for you?

Five years.

Is there any timetable for him to train on his own?

Maybe he will go out on his own sometime next year or in ‘19. We’ll see. We’re not in a hurry.

Does he have potential to add to the family legacy?

Yes, he likes the game. He’s got everything in his hands.

Do you have the same passion for the game as when you started?

Yes, I think I have. I love what I do. I loved being a jockey. In my mind, I’ll always be a jockey. But I love training. I like every bit of it.

What would it mean to train an Arc winner?

Yeah, that would be great. It is the one thing I would love to do. If I had one wish, it is to win the Arc de Triomphe.

Why has that been elusive?

It is very difficult. I’ve had very good mares, great milers. I’ve never had a good horse over a mile and a half. It may happen one day.



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