What is the best horse you have trained?
You can’t answer a question like that because it’s different from year to year. In pure quality, it would surely be Long Run, it was the most impressive. Then there was Rigoreux who was a small horse with a huge personality and who won Group 1 at 10 and 12 years old. He almost died at 4 years old but he managed to get over that. He was an extremely endearing horse.
Is there a horse that has marked you and that you would have liked to train?
Recently, a horse that really impressed me was Frankel. Then there are plenty of impressive horses but this one stands out. I remember that when Frankel ran, systematically, I set an alarm and I went to see him run. It was too beautiful to see. He put the others down so easily. It was something magical.
Another one that was very impressive is Mill Reef. But at that time, we didn’t see things live like today. I’ve only seen it in photos and it’s totally different, there’s no vision of the race, that changes everything. I also have great respect for a horse like Timoko. He was extraordinary. In addition, he has made exploits quite recently so we still have him in mind.
Who is the greatest jumping jockey you have seen evolve?
Of course, the career of Christophe Pieux necessarily challenges. Maybe also that we are less impressed by the people we have known since he was my apprentice. I have great admiration for Alec Carter and for Georges Stern at the time. They are people who have an extraordinary charisma. When I haven’t known jockeys in my lifetime, it appeals to me more. So it’s hard to compare, it’s like comparing Mozart and Bach. Then there are jockeys like Tony McCoy in England, but they were much more adored and highlighted by the press. In France, it was never like that. Obviously, there is also Yves Saint-Martin, whom I knew when I was very young.
In all the disciplines of riding, there are extraordinary things because the sharing between man and horse is very important. The horse is very receptive, he gives his life for the man and that’s why we owe him a lot of respect.
Which coach impressed you the most?
Francois Mathet. But again, there are plenty. It’s very difficult because if you cite one, you can’t cite the others. There are plenty of things to take into account, including the charisma of the characters. But the career of François Mathet is interesting insofar as he was first a cavalry officer. He rode in races, he won some. What he managed to do was not all cooked in the beak. He was someone with a very big personality. He is the one who immediately comes to mind.
Your best encounter?
There were many good encounters. But perhaps it was encounters with horses that were the most beautiful. In particular François Mathet wrote a book on this subject. The preface begins with a sentence by François Mathet which says: “The horses lost me but I owe them everything. » I’m not going to plagiarize but I will take it up on my own. There are horses like Jaïr du Cochet opened me to the recognition of British racegoers.
A big victory that was unexpected for you?
I don’t go to races thinking it’s not going to work so when I go I know I have a real reason to go. This is why there is no unexpected victory.
A Group I win where you were sure to win?
Never ! When one is sure of winning, that is always where one is beaten. The other time in Fontainebleau, I had five starters. Four won yet the only one who lost was the one I trusted the most.
The thing you are most proud of?
To have lived according to the precepts that I had set myself and to have succeeded rather well.
The biggest regret of your career?
There are so many. Many regrets. It can’t be otherwise, it’s in me.
The anecdote you never dared to reveal?
I’m not going to reveal it today.