Chantilly - Looking ahead to the next generation

  Racehorses have been trained in Chantilly since anyone can remember. It would be fair to say that the horses are part of the fabric of the town, perhaps just as much so as the bobbin lace, which Chantilly was famous for in the 17th century.       Surrounded by forest and located some 30 kilometres from Paris, Chantilly is the iconic home of French racing and training. Managing the hectares of training grounds and the racecourse is no easy task, but the responsibility lies in the hands of Marin Le Cour Grandmaison and his boss Matthieu Vincent, who splits his time between Chantilly, Deauville, and Maisons-Laffitte. They see themselves as ambassadors for racing in Chantilly, evangelical about what the town has to offer and keen to expand the centre’s reach to up-and-coming young trainers.       Spending time in their company, it becomes clear that their primary focus is to give the trainers the tools they need to train horses better.        Take Montjeu, who according to Vincent was not only his favourite horse but quite a quirky customer to train. “The horse was difficult and John (Hammond) did a great job with him. We would have him working at the racecourse at 5am. One day Cash Asmussen came to the racecourse to ride but John didn’t want him to gallop, just trot. He wanted him trotting for 500 hundred metres. But after 20 metres Montjeu wanted to go. So John stopped him and we ended up opening the racecourse to repeat the exercise five or six times and eventually he relaxed. We would do that for any trainer and it wouldn’t make any difference to us if they wanted to do something special at 5pm in the evening, we are here to help our clients.”        Chantilly is home to 110 trainers and approximately 2500 horses, of which 250 are jumpers (National Hunt). “In 2010 we had 2400 flat horses and 600 jumpers here and the average trainer was maybe 60 years of age,” says Vincent.       “If we compare Chantilly and Newmarket, Newmarket is more of a dream for some owners because they have a lot of classic younger trainers -- that’s good, the young. We need to have younger trainers, we want to help the young trainers here. It used to be every trainer’s dream to train here. Now we have the provinces, look at Jean Claude Roget: in 2005 he started to have classic horses but he’s not from Chantilly. So some said, ‘Maybe you can be a good trainer anywhere in France.’”       Chantilly Racecourse used to open for 12 days a year, but with the advent of all-weather racing in 2012 that number has jumped to 45. “But we have less and less horses in training in Chantilly since 2012. The track has helped us retain horses. It helps the trainers. Twenty years ago it was so quiet here and horses were just walking and trotting, but now with the all-weather tracks we’re training every day.”       The all-weather track has proven to be a good investment for the local economy, partly funded by the town, which put in €1,500,000 of the €5,000,000 cost. The annual tax income runs into a healthy seven figure sum. On top of that, the town is home to 2000 workers whose income comes from the racing industry, with a staggering 50% of the workforce being stable staff or riders. Who knows what the shrinkage would have been like if the all-weather hadn’t happened.       Subtle changes are afoot amongst the training ranks in Chantilly; this year alone Criquette Head-Maarek, Elie Lellouche, and Francois Doumen have retired, and these trainers need replacing.         “There have been a lot of complications to come training in France. We need to do more to help the younger trainers set up. But the system is changing and now if a trainer wants to come here from abroad and doesn’t speak much French, they can train here -- as long as they have a good background. It used to be that they had to take the exam in French, but it’s not like that anymore,” enthuses Vincent. “You can come here to train for three months and then another three months but no more than that! You’ll then have to decide if you want to have a permanent licence here.”       The size of the training centre is big, about 2000 hectares, which works out at nearly 4500 acres. There are no less than 145 kilometres of natural silica sand tracks and 10 kilometres of all-weather gallops, with over 120 hectares of grass gallops for good measure.        It takes quite a team to manage this amount of land. In total, the centre employs 65 people to look after the training grounds, and another 15 people at the racecourse. They are split into five different teams with one team in charge of Les Aigles, one at Lamorlaye and Coye-La-Foret, one at the racecourse, and two teams which can be sent to any part of the estate where needed.        The majority of workers on each team are former riders themselves. Those on the morning shift are on hand from 5am to prepare the different tracks for the morning schedule. Different members of the team will work morning, day, or evening shifts. The emphasis on the day team is to tread in turf or renovate the gallops, and in the summer the evening team is responsible for watering 48 hours ahead when needed. Turf gallops are irrigated to give consistent good-to-soft ground.       It costs €90 a month per horse to be able to use the training grounds of Chantilly. This might be expensive for some, certainly when compared to the provinces, but where else offers the variety in facilities that Chantilly has?       But for the training centre to grow and expand, one can’t help but think that it would be an ideal place for a large vet clinic to be based. At the moment, many trainers send horses to Normandy or even England for treatment.       Some trainers will balk at the cost of training in what is effectively a housing suburb of Paris where the non-racing workforce make the daily commute into the capital city. But its geographical position does work in its favour, and having the principle French airport of Charles de Gaulle half an hour away can only be a plus if more international trainers choose to make Chantilly their home.

EUROPEAN EDITION - ISSUE 61 - APRIL TO JUNE 2018

By Giles Anderson

Racehorses have been trained in Chantilly since anyone can remember. It would be fair to say that the horses are part of the fabric of the town, perhaps just as much so as the bobbin lace, which Chantilly was famous for in the 17th century.

Matthieu Vincent, Trainer Centre and Racecourse Director and Marin Le Cour Grandmaison, Assistant to the Director, have the responsibility of managing the racecourse and training grounds.

Surrounded by forest and located some 30 kilometres from Paris, Chantilly is the iconic home of French racing and training. Managing the hectares of training grounds and the racecourse is no easy task, but the responsibility lies in the hands of Marin Le Cour Grandmaison and his boss Matthieu Vincent, who splits his time between Chantilly, Deauville, and Maisons-Laffitte. They see themselves as ambassadors for racing in Chantilly, evangelical about what the town has to offer and keen to expand the centre’s reach to up-and-coming young trainers.

Site plan of Chantilly Training Grounds

Spending time in their company, it becomes clear that their primary focus is to give the trainers the tools they need to train horses better.

Take Montjeu, who according to Vincent was not only his favourite horse but quite a quirky customer to train. “The horse was difficult and John (Hammond) did a great job with him. We would have him working at the racecourse at 5am. One day Cash Asmussen came to the racecourse to ride but John didn’t want him to gallop, just trot. He wanted him trotting for 500 hundred metres. But after 20 metres Montjeu wanted to go. So John stopped him and we ended up opening the racecourse to repeat the exercise five or six times and eventually he relaxed. We would do that for any trainer and it wouldn’t make any difference to us if they wanted to do something special at 5pm in the evening, we are here to help our clients.”

Chantilly is home to 110 trainers and approximately 2500 horses, of which 250 are jumpers (National Hunt). “In 2010 we had 2400 flat horses and 600 jumpers here and the average trainer was maybe 60 years of age,” says Vincent.

“If we compare Chantilly and Newmarket, Newmarket is more of a dream for some owners because they have a lot of classic younger trainers -- that’s good, the young. We need to have younger trainers, we want to help the young trainers here. It used to be every trainer’s dream to train here. Now we have the provinces, look at Jean Claude Roget: in 2005 he started to have classic horses but he’s not from Chantilly. So some said, ‘Maybe you can be a good trainer anywhere in France.’”

Chantilly Racecourse used to open for 12 days a year, but with the advent of all-weather racing in 2012 that number has jumped to 45. “But we have less and less horses in training in Chantilly since 2012. The track has helped us retain horses. It helps the trainers. Twenty years ago it was so quiet here and horses were just walking and trotting, but now with the all-weather tracks we’re training every day.”

The all-weather track has proven to be a good investment for the local economy, partly funded by the town, which put in €1,500,000 of the €5,000,000 cost. The annual tax income runs into a healthy seven figure sum. On top of that, the town is home to 2000 workers whose income comes from the racing industry, with a staggering 50% of the workforce being stable staff or riders. Who knows what the shrinkage would have been like if the all-weather hadn’t happened.

TO READ MORE --

Buy this issue in print or download 

April - June 2018 issue 61 (PRINT)
6.95
Quantity:
Add to Cart

Are you a subscriber?

Don't miss out and subscribe to receive the print magazine now! 

Print & Online subscription
24.95 every 12 months
Add to Cart

Amateur Riders - More than just a tradition

Lissa Oliver's Spring Sales Analysis

0