« In summer, we focus on selection and breeding »


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Article published in 24H au Trot – Find all the issues of the daily newspaper by clicking here

24H au Trot.- Next Sunday we will be dealing with a big and new line-up with three Criteriums meeting on the same day. Can you come back to the objectives of such an approach?

Pierre Belloche. This is an important and strong event for us. The idea is to create a flagship day that should allow us to see the champions of tomorrow and those who can become the great stallions of the future. These are important headliners who will both generate stakes and bring people to the racecourse.

Today, we realize that we have to create event days to seduce the spectators. They create spectacle and encourage public participation. If we also take into account the difficult travel conditions in Paris, we understand that it takes more than an event race to bring many people to the races. A large poster with several times like we are offering next Sunday, on the other hand, makes it possible to mobilize more spectators.

The creation of this day has shaken up and modified programs in a significant way. The Critérium des 4 Ans is now definitively postponed by four months compared to its historic position in the spring. As for the Critérium des 3 Ans, it is brought forward by at least three months, from December to September. What are the arguments for these changes from a sporting point of view?

These changes must be made throughout the program, which has really been overhauled. We can in particular remember that we have created international Group I during the winter for the generations you are talking about, those who will compete next Sunday in the Critériums des 3 Ans and des 4 Ans. In January, there will be the Sulky World Cup for 4-year-olds, which is aimed at 3-year-olds at the start of the meeting. Either a Group I contested a month after the old positioning of the Critérium des 3 Ans, the change of date and its advancement in the calendar of which we know are debating. This Group I, the Sulky World Cup for 4-year-olds, should allow those who are not ready during the summer – currently – or who are late to have a big event at the right time during the winter. We started from the observation that the Critérium des 3 Ans organized in December was aimed at horses that were no longer really 3 years old and were in fact closer to 4 years old.

The revision of the programs upstream of the Criteriums, in particular in July, now passes through Enghien. What reactions have you received as an elected representative to these upheavals?

I have not really been questioned on this subject for the moment. What I hear and what resonates with me is rather satisfaction with the creation of the Criteriums day which, for purists, is a great event. It must also be said that we are in year 1 and we will then have to draw an assessment. Regarding Enghien, it should be noted that we have increased the number of starters at the Enghien summer meeting this year thanks to the work done by the teams in charge of the track led by Julius Le Tutour. The track was more to the taste of the professionals. As for the upstream phase at the Criteriums, the coaches had two qualifying events at Vincennes closer together and revised in terms of distance. Some will arrive in the Criteriums without having passed through Enghien but having only done the Qualifying at Vincennes. In the program commission, we worked for everything to fit together well and I think we built something coherent.

What is your assessment of the Qualifying phase?

The notion of Qualifiers is more linked to a marketing and communication dimension to talk about the event to bettors as soon as possible. The idea is to capture attention for as long as possible, as can be done for example in Formula 1. I would say that this system of Qualifiers is more intended for the general public than for socio-professionals. It is important to mark with people the hierarchy and the sequence between the races. This brings more visibility around the champions for a population with little expertise in racing.

Criterion Day is doubled by Breeders’ Day. Why ?

This is the logical continuation of what has been done beforehand in this mandate. We spoke to the volunteers at the beginning of the summer. The entire summer and autumn program then focused on selection and breeding with all the Criteriums. It is a direct link with the breeders who are the base of our pyramid. Inviting them on the day of the Criteriums seemed like a natural fit. The desire is that they are present and that they can also observe the future stallions. It’s interesting to bring them to the racecourse, so that they aren’t all in front of their TV. And it is also a way to encourage them and nurture new vocations. We know that it is nevertheless an aging population and that the typical French breeder is a « small » breeder with one or two mares.

How do you judge the economic health of the breeding and racing sector?

The environment is difficult in general, with a world that has become a world of optimization and finance in all areas. We must add to this the events that we have known as the health crisis. However, I note that we have positive indicators for breeding. The yearling market at its best remains in good shape. The markets for racehorses in training and claiming have rarely been so high. We have a lot of new investors in claimers. We can say that there are not only negative messages currently.

And Pierre Belloche, as a professional this time. Will you be represented on the track next Sunday?

Normally I will have Horsy Dream in 5-year-olds if he goes to winnings. Normally, it should find its place. He has just shown that he had the right to compete in his Critérium. While racing in Q2 (Prix Jockey), he has just finished very close to Hohneck [N.D.L.R. : Horsy Dream s’est classé 5e]. This gives us confidence for the future.

What about your year?

The year got off to a very good start with consistent results thereafter. Everything is going well thanks to my whole team.

You have had boxes in Grosbois for a year. What conclusions do you draw from this? Are you going to perpetuate this second site?

During the winter, Grosbois allows me to avoid traveling to the winter meeting. The rest of the year is a base for my starters from Enghien or those who can race in the North and East of France. I had also chosen Grosbois because I was a little cramped at home (in Bois Douffray in the Orne) with no possibility of expanding right away. The choice of Grosbois was the least risky solution with a high-performance work tool. Grosbois also allows me to prepare the foals there before the qualifications and to better promote my breeding.

How do you manage to organize your agenda, between the management of your breeding, your two training sites, your mandate as elected LeTROT?

It’s a lot of time and investment. I also have to organize myself as well as possible to anticipate everything. We come back to the subject of Grosbois. I currently have 13 boxes there but I could perhaps take a few more. The condition is that I find a new collaborator for this Paris branch: I am in full search. The question of team members, for me as for others, will be a central question so that I can continue to invest myself in my mandate as an elected official without jeopardizing my business. I will only represent myself if I have a solid team around me.

Your personal situation is a good illustration of a challenge for the future, that of recruitment and the necessary evolution of management. A subject pointed out by specialists in these questions such as Guillaume Herrnberger at Afasec.

Indeed and it is a subject to which I have been sensitive for several years. All my exchanges with Guillaume Herrnberger point in the same direction. For me, in my search for a collaborator in Grosbois, I include the responsibility of accompanying me to a winter meeting with responsibilities on good horses. It’s about running Premium or PMH races in the North or East regions, managing the foals before qualifying. There is a real managerial dimension. This is how a company like mine can develop and project itself into the future as calmly as possible.

The sale that will close the day is another new element of this big day

Pierre Belloche:It’s a way for us to try to interest everyone in the French Trotter. This sale offers broodmares with great papers, some of which come from large breeding farms such as those of JeanPierre Dubois, the Atouts of the Barbé family. They are often full of top stallions. What may seem crazy is that Americans will cross the Atlantic to come and see our Criteriums, our champions. They might be interested in French mares. What we are looking for is to internationalize the French Trotter. We watch the gallop and we see that there are a lot of foreign investors in France. On our side, we try to talk to foreign investors. But one could also imagine that French breeders join forces to buy a very well-bred brood mare, like the pooling that already exists between investors for the purchase of yearlings. It is a practice that is developing more and more at the trot. »

The positive opinion of Sébastien Guarato on the meeting of the three Criteriums

With Sébastien Guarato, it is a man with ten Criteriums of 3 Years (4), 4 Years (2) and 5 Years (4) who expresses himself. The professional will still have several representatives in contention next Sunday. Consulted on the reform of the selection program which led to the creation of the great day of the Criteriums, he recognizes many advantages. « I find this development of the program to be rather positive. Moving the Critérium des 4 Ans from May to September offers participants a real break after the winter meeting, whereas before it was necessary to continue. For those who also ride, it’s also good to take advantage of the break. For the Critérium des 3 Ans, it’s also better that way. For those who started early and were generation leaders quickly, they could stall at the end of the year at the time of the Criterium. Bringing the Critérium des 3 Ans forward by three months may just disadvantage those who were born late and who will have needed more time to express themselves. As for the fact of also doing part of the preparation at Enghien, on a flat track, I think that’s not so bad. Changing tracks is always good for horses. In my case, running the Critérium des 4 Ans in September is an advantage with my starters like Ideal of the Pommeau and Instrumentalist. I waited for them, they are now arriving in the « good stride » and have the necessary gains. In May, they could not have presented themselves at the start.« 

Sébastien Guarato, the breeder

Less known in his breeder costume, Sébastien Guarato nevertheless has a classic title with his pupil Astronaut (Winner Booster). He appreciates that the breeders were invited on September 18 and put in the spotlight: « It’s good to highlight the breeders because they are the basis of everything. Without them, there are simply no owners, trainers, races. They do hard work every day, whether it’s sunny, rainy, snowy, or windy. It’s really nice to show them off this September 18. »

LeTROT’s communication service on the front line

The Criterion Day mobilizes many energies within the parent company. Beyond its programmatic design, and the overhaul of the selection program that it generated, it was coupled with a multi-level communication plan. First there were the actions linked to the visibility of the Qualifying Days, before September 18th. And now, it is the « Day of Sacres » which is highlighted. Communication gives pride of place to the event in all its facets: sporty with an exceptional poster carried by three Criteriums, festive, entertaining and gourmet. In the clip produced for this purpose, we talk about a damn entertaining and damn greedy meeting.

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