Following the recent Betting Gods guide to Horse Racing In France, in this blog we’ll explore who I consider to be 5 of the top French horse racing trainers of all time:
Fabre didn’t come from a horse racing background, but turned his back on his law-degree and the chance to follow the career-path of his father (a diplomat) to pursue his passion for race horses. It proved to be a wise move, as he quickly progressed from stable-groom to become the leading jump-jockey in France. He then turned his hand to training jumps horses, before proving even more successful as a flat-trainer. His successes include a record 7 Prix de l’Arc De Triomphes, as well as a catalogue of global big race wins which include winning the English Derby, Oaks, 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, as well as several races at the Breeder’s Cup with the likes of Banks Hill, Arcangues and Shirocco. He has also won 24 French Champion Trainer Titles, winning it on 21 consecutive occasions between 1987 and 2007.
Doumen followed in his father’s footsteps, being his assistant-trainer for seven years before taking out his own training license in 1977. He was a dual-purpose trainer who enjoyed group-1 success on the flat in Hong Kong with Jim And Tonic. However, he was better known as a jumps trainer and most British National Hunt enthusiasts will remember his remarkable strike-rate in England where he won a remarkable 5 King George VI Chases, as well as a Cheltenham Gold Cup with his best chaser The Fellow. The horse that he is probably best remembered for in Britain though is Baracouda – who he trained to win 4 Long Walk Hurdle and 2 World Hurdles.
Racing has been in the blood of the Head family for generations, and Criquette followed her great-grandfather, grandfather and father into training. She is also the sister of 6-time French Champion Jockey Freddie Head. One of her first big successes was winning the 1979 Prix de l’Arc De Triomphe with Three Troikas but, despite winning a plethora of group-1s, she did not win the Arc again until 2013 when she won it with the brilliant filly Treve, who won the race again in 2014. Head, renowned for her handling of fillies, also won the English 1,000 Guineas on 4 occasions.
Alain De Royer-Dupre
The death of trainer Francois Mathet enabled Royer-Dupre to become the first-choice trainer to the mighty Aga Khan, and the now veteran trainer has certainly made the most of his opportunity by winning all the French Classics at least twice. However, he has also enjoyed group-1/grade-1 success on a global footing – winning such races in Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Ireland, England, Hong Kong, Canada, Germany and the USA – as well as winning the Melbourne Cup in Australia in 2010.
Jean Claude Rouget
Rouget has been a top-class trainer for over 20-years but, whilst he has for many years been overshadowed by some of the great French racing dynasties, he has stepped out of those shadows in recent seasons. A hat-trick of French 1,000 Guineas (2014 to 2016) started this emergence, and Almanzor’s wins in the French Derby, Irish Champion Stakes and Champion Stakes last season means his star is firmly in the ascendancy.