We know and love this small corner of France near Nice very well since Gina has been coming here for almost 10 years! While those up north are suffering in the cold, we are basking in the warm sun of the French Riviera, from mid-January through the end of February.
Our horses love it. They perform very well in this climate and at this track. Meanwhile, their owners are spending more and more time here, coming from various destinations, including Canada, the United States, England, and Germany.
Cagnes, the place to be
Alors que le Grand Vincennes vit au rythme des courses de prestige, Cagnes-sur-mer et son incontournable meeting hivernal rayonnent dans l’ombre de l’ogre et ses célèbres joutes parisiennes. Loin de se concurrencer, les deux tournois sont complémentaires. D’un côté les cracks et la fraîcheur de Grosbois. De l’autre le petit hippodrome azuréen avec son soleil et les cracks du turf français. De plus en plus beau avec des installations en perpétuelles améliorations, l’hippodrome provincial attire les plus grands. Soumillon, Boudot, Guyon et tous les autres ne se trompent pas. C’est bien à Cagnes qu’il faut être. La recette est simple mais efficace: soleil, pistes de qualité et un accueil chaleureux. La présence de nos meilleurs jockeys fait le bonheur des parieurs, petits entraîneurs et propriétaires. Et des commerces locaux. Evénement majeur de la vie cagnoise et de son économie, les courses et toute sa « caravane » ( professionnels, jockeys, parieurs…) occupent une place répondérante dans la vie économique de Cagnes. Les meilleurs attirent et font jouer. Et de par leur présence permettent au meeting de rester ce qu’il a toujours: une éclaircie au beau milieu de l’hiver et un poumon essentiel pour l’activité des commerçants.
Les temps sont durs pour les courses françaises mais l’optimisme est de rigueur. Si les Grands jouent le jeu, on est forcé d’y croire. Leur présence est indispensable. Remercions les!
La course à la Cravache d’Or y est sûrement pour quelque chose. Nous ne pouvons que nous en réjouir. Encore plus si la finale se joue à Pornichet ou à Marseille. Pour le bonheur de tous.
Christopher Doussot is the owner and manager of the Motel Ascot in Cagnes-sur-Mer and thoroughbred owner in France. We and several of our owners have enjoyed his hospitality and the comfort of his hotel for years.
This article appeared in the Paris Turf, dated February 1, 2019, in Le Point de Vue on page one.
The pheasant that could have ended my life this morning chose not to, for which I was grateful. Far away into my own thoughts, I didn’t see him preening alongside the trail until the last second – Hard Way was nearly on top of him, bowling along toward home in a huge extended trot. Too late to stop, all I could do was crouch lower to the saddle and hope he didn’t choose that second to fly off, which would have resulted in me flying too, probably straight into a stone wall. The pheasant stayed put, and Hard Way coasted past – he probably didn’t see him, either.
George, Hi Shinko and Birs are heading to Deauville tomorrow to help close down the August meeting. George is running 2,400 meters in a handicap on the fibersand, Shinko goes 1,500 meters in a claimer for amateur riders and Birs stretches out to 1,900 meters in a claimer. George probably has the best chance of the three; Shinko was truly disappointing last time out and I don’t know where we are with him. He’ll have blinkers for the first time tomorrow, so I’m hoping he just decides to bolt and get on with it. Birs will get more distance, which he needs, but I would have preferred to get him on the turf instead of the fiber. In any case, he’s the last of the runners from the Irish contingent. They will head home Wednesday after running a good four-month season here.
Our numbers so far this year are pretty good: seven wins and 47 places from 120 starts, which puts us in the money 45 percent of the time. Things will slow down a bit now that the Irish are going home, but we still have a solid stable that should keep the percentages up. Meanwhile, it’s already time to start thinking about yearling sales and prospects for next year. The Deauville August sale is behind us, but other sales with more realistic prices are ahead, including the Osarus sale at La Teste on Sept. 15. The catalog is quite good and the prices are usually affordable. Anybody out there interested in yearlings should get in touch.
I’m finally finding time to catch up after coming back from our brief, but crammed, vacation. Vegas was fun, as always. You either love it or hate it, but I think it’s great. Everyone’s there for the same reason – a little gambling, a lot of eating, some shows…it’s refreshing to be in a place where you can chat with strangers sharing the craps table or lounging by the pool and not have to worry about the French formalities. But I digress. Back in the real world, or at least what passes for it for me, we are in mid-season in Deauville, and things are clicking along.
Strictly Rhythm seems to be back on track, running a very good fifth in a maiden on Friday. She had the far outside number 18 draw, which is no gift on the 1,900 meter course. From that spot, you either have to get out front or sit behind everyone. She got out nicely, showing much more spark than she had in her past two races. A better draw would have put her even closer to the win. Comment Dit ran a good third in her claimer. She has proven to be a tough filly who has taken her racing well. Hold That Emperor was a little more disappointing, running only 6th, but he is running like a horse that needs a break, and he’ll get one, finally.
On Tuesday, Justthewayyouare ran a good fifth, but it was his first blow on the fibersand and I think he’ll be better on the turf. He’ll get one more run out in the country before he goes back to Ireland to finish growing up.
Tomorrow, George makes his comeback in the last race of the day. He seems to be back on track, and the entry is good, so fingers crossed for him. He ran off with me twice this week, so I know he’s certainly got it in the tank. It also gives me a great excuse to be on hand for Goldikova and Galikova. Deauville is quite a bit of fun in August.
We had three more places from our runners this week, including a game third by Talawa in Dieppe yesterday. The yard continues to roll along, but I am rolling off to Vegas for a quick vacation. Slightly questionable timing in mid-season, but there are family obligations in Wisconsin involved first, so since we’re that far, we’re zipping away for a few days in the sun. We haven’t had much of that lately in France, but it’s 100 percent guaranteed in Las Vegas in August. I’ll be away just over a week, and the team here will have things well in hand. I’ll still be doing entries and monitoring the racing from across the pond. Next week will start with Comment Dit and Twilight Allure in Clairefontaine. Twilight is coming back from a wind operation, so this will be sort of a test drive. On Tuesday, Panisette and Golden Age have very good entries in claimers in Pornichet. I’m sorry I won’t be here for that, because I’ve heard the new fibertrack there is fantastic. I hope to see it first-hand soon. We’ll have a few more runners in Deauville on Thursday and Hi Shinko makes his comeback on Friday. Vive Las Vegas!
It’s been warm and dry in most of France for far too long; we’re in the middle of a drought that has turned most of the Ile de France into a dustbowl and the turf courses are turning hard as pavement despite watering. Consequently, tracks that can are watering aggressively – and that includes Lyon, France’s second city about six hours Southwest of us. So we thought we would have four runners there Wednesday and Thursday. When we left Paris it was warm and sunny. When we got to Lyon, it was cold and pouring rain. Con Marnane was sure we made a wrong turn and ended up back in Ireland. The rain on top of the watering turned the track into a heavy mess, and our two fillies struggled on it. Golden Age finished only fifth and Rajasthani Princess was right behind her (running better, actually, than I had expected).
Since the weather was not predicted to get any better, we decided to scratch Hold That Emperor for Thursday and go ahead with Talawa. We didn’t think she’d like the ground, either (and she didn’t), but she needed the run and we had no other good entries coming up for her. Hold That Emperor, on the other hand, is a very nice colt and we didn’t want to waste a race in Lyon. Unfortunately, by declaring him a non-starter, we have to wait eight days before he can race again, so he loses what would have been an excellent back-up entry in St. Cloud next week. But there will be other chances for him. Talawa, on the other hand, will go the claiming route. Hopefully she will run better on better ground, because she was extremely unbalanced in Lyon, and also managed to chuck Fabien off on the way to the start.
We have an easy weekend now, meaning I get to go to the French Derby on Sunday and actually just enjoy the day. We’ll pick up next week with runners in Angers, St. Cloud and Maisons-Laffitte.
Gina Rarick a réalisé, au cours de sept premiers mois de 2018, ce qu’elle obtient habituellement en une année complète. Avec 58% de réussite dans les places qui comptent, les 5 premières qui rapportent de l’argent, c’est tout simplement une année en or.
Gina Rarick a remporté le premier quinté de sa carrière grâce à Quiet Zain avant de doubler la mise en fin de journée. Un joli doublé pour cette femme entraîneur d’origine américaine. Le Parisien – February 17, 2018
Gina Rarick doesn’t mince her words, as readers of her online blog will testify. The American journalist who became a French racehorse trainer has strong views on all aspects of the sport – from the struggle to make ends meet in Europe, the problems of being accepted in France and the admin issues at France Galop to the medication situation back in the U.S. – as John Gilmore found out in this recent question-and-answer interview. Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – August 14, 2015
Le Festival de Galop de Vichy est devenu incontournable, pour les professionnels comme pour les amateurs de courses hippiques. Cette semaine entièrement dédiée au galop a été bien préparée par Gina Rarick qui descend plusieurs chevaux, avec la nouvelle arrivée Ella Diva en attraction. Equidia Live – July 18, 2015
Après les coulisses de l’hippodrome (lire nos éditions précédentes), voici les coulisses du centre d’entraînement. L’Américaine Gina Rarick possède une écurie à Maisons-Laffitte. Courrier des Yvelines – April 13, 2015
American Gina Rarick, a former international horseracing journalist, has been training racehorses in Maisons-Laffitte, France, since 2002. 46 percent of her runners were in the money in 2013, and that percentage has been rising steadily for the past four years. Total earnings for the yard have already topped €750,000. Gavelhouse.com – March 1, 2014
At the famous Hippodrome de Longchamp just outside of Paris this month, crowds came to cheer and bet on the sleek thoroughbreds that opened horse racing season by galloping down the verdant turf course. NPR – April 23, 2013
As the horses galloped up the finishing straight in the 2,400-meter (11⁄2-mile) Prix de la Lomagne Handicap at Saint-Cloud on a gloomy, rain-sodden evening May 5, Hard Way cruised to the front, eventually winning as he pleased. Racegoers enthusiastically cheered his every stride to the wire and beyond. bloodhorse.com – May 15 2012.
Film directors take note–Gina Rarick is an unusual character and in the treatment we also have a most unusual horse: Hard Way. No novelist could have conjured up a more symbolically accurate name. In August 2010, after 16 races, Hard Way endured a crushed first vertebra and was basically lucky to be alive. Rarick sent the horse to friendly pastures, gave him time off. Treatment involved only one pharmaceutical product, Tildren, for improving bone density. Thoroughbred Daily News – Thursday, May 10, 2012.
Avant de devenir entraîneur professionnel en 2008, j’ai été journaliste pendant plus de 20 ans et je collabore toujours à différentes publications, dont le New York Times. L’année dernière, c’est avec fierté que j’ai écrit un article sur le système français de mise à la retraite des chevaux de course, conjointement mis au point par France Galop et la Ligue pour la Protection du Cheval. Ce système a fait l’admiration et a été envié par de nombreux lecteurs américains qui se désolaient de la triste fin réservée aux champions de leur côté de l’Atlantique, du fait de l’absence de tout régime de mise à la retraite. Jour du Galop – Lundi 1er Fèvrier, 2010
As the horses galloped to the turn at Chantilly racecourse, shooting past the grandeur of the Château de Chantilly and into the home stretch, a dark brown filly, easy to recognise thanks to the small diamond of white hairs on her forehead, surged to the front of the pack. To the shouts of the crowd, and urged on by her jockey, she raced past the post in first place. The French Paper – January 2010
You will not have heard of Gina Rarick because she trains in France, and in fact is the only American trainer operating in that country. However, the handicapping portrait of this best-kept secret in the training profession can be applied universally wherever races are run. American Turf Monthly – December 2009
She is racing’s American in Paris. Or, to be more specific, racing’s American in Maisons-Laffitte, the training center west of Paris where she maintains a string of American – and British-owned horses, the only Yankee — male or female — currently training in France. Daily Racing Form – Sunday, November 29, 2009
Le parcours de Gina Rarick est un des plus atypiques. Cette Américaine de 46 ans a commencé à monter à cheval à 30 ans, ne connaissant rien aux courses. “Je suis la seule Américaine à entraîner en France. J’ai décroché un permis d’entraîner en 2001 avant de devenir entraîneur public en septembre 2008, suite à un licenciement économique qui m’a permis de me jeter dans le grand bain.” Le Parisien – November 25, 2009
Former Turf writer Gina Rarick has only been training in France professionally for a little more than 18 months, but the American-born former International Herald Tribune editor has proven as adept with horses as she was with a pen. Thoroughbred Times – October 17, 2009
A woman in a male-dominated business is not a unique situation, but an American woman in the very closed world of French horse racing is certainly a more unusual proposition. I met with the racehorse trainer Gina Rarick who gave me an insight into both the sport and how she has managed to find her place in this business. Invisible Paris Blog – September 20, 2009
Gallop France is a boutique racing yard in Maisons-Laffitte, just west of Paris, with a limited number of horses in training. Each animal receives individualized attention, with a diet and training regimen tailored specifically to the horse.
Our owners get the same attention, with our staff available to answer questions and provide full information on your horse and make sure the race-day experience is a memorable one.
Gina Rarick, Trainer
34, av Madame de Sevigne
Discover the fun and excitement of thoroughbred horse racing in France, where big purses and low training fees combine to make this country one of the most attractive in the world for horse owners.
Explore our site for details, and contact us to discuss ownership opportunities. Follow Gina Rarick on Facebook and Twitter or visit our blog to keep up with all the latest happenings in the stable.
Why race in France?
Prize money in French racing is among the highest in the world. The winner of a mid-level race will take home between €9,000 and €15,000, compared with £1,000 to £1,500 in the U.K. In addition, French racing offers premiums to French-bred horses that add 60 percent to prize money for two- and three-year-olds, and 45 percent for four- and five-year-olds and 35 percent for 6-year-olds and older.
Costs are comparatively low. French racing authorities subsidize travel expenses for horses, there are no entry fees for non-pattern races and jockey fees are minimal. Training fees in our yard are €55 a day excluding shoes and racing costs. That means no extra fees for things like rugs or nutritional supplements.
Another factor to consider: France does not allow any medication in a horse’s system on race day. That means lower vet bills for owners and sound, drug-free horses.
Come racing in France –
we’ll have a bottle of Champagne on ice for you!