French racing’s first family joins US anti-doping call

Criquette and Alec Head have joined a growing number of high-profile racing figures to support a ban on raceday medications in the US.
Criquette and Alec Head have joined a growing number of high-profile racing figures to support a ban on raceday medications in the US.

Renowned French racehorse trainers Alec and Criquette Head are the latest high-profile figures from the horse racing industry to join the Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA).

Champion trainer, leading breeder and classic-winning owner of the Haras du Quesnay stable, Alec Head is joined by Criquette, Europe’s leading female trainer to support WHOA’s efforts in the US. The group which supports the passage federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in US racing.

The father and daughter pair are from a dynasty of internationally successful trainers of champions and classic winners. The 1979 win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by Three Troikas was a family affair, with the horse owned by Alec’s wife Ghislaine Head, ridden by son Freddy Head, and trained by Criquette. Her victory in the most prestigious French horse race was the first by a female trainer.

“In France we have one ruling body for racing, but the problem in the United States is that every state is its own body and therefore it makes it very difficult to make a decision across the board,” Alec Head said.

“To make decisions, you need one body. I’ve trained for many years without drugs. I don’t see why you can’t do the same in America, just like you used to do in the old days.  I support the efforts of WHOA and the creation of the industry coalition.

“I hope they can succeed in getting USADA appointed to act as one independent body making one rule for racing in America. It will pay huge dividends both domestically and internationally.”

Christiane “Criquette” Head, who has been a trainer in France since 1977, said she had never felt the need to use any medication to train a horse.

“In our country race day medication is completely banned.  If we have a bleeder, we train the horse lightly and don’t offer food on the day of the race.

“If a horse is sore, then we are patient and training takes longer. We don’t hide or mask problems with drugs and as a result we have fewer horses breaking down on the track,” she said.

“When I take my horses to run in the USA I don’t run them on medication, they don’t need it. The ban on medication in Europe also helps to maintain a high standard in the breeding shed. When we breed our horses we know their natural talent.”

www.waterhayoatsalliance.com

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