For someone who stands on the brink of history in, trainer Criquette Head-Maarek cuts a relatively calm figure.
The French handler could be excused for showing signs of nerves as she prepares her superstar Treve for a tilt at a record-breaking third successive win in Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
But despite the pressure, and the intense focus she finds herself under from avenues of media across the world, her character and attitude remain unaltered.
“I’ve got no pressure. I’m taking her to the race like I would take any other horse. I am not someone who is nervous. For me it doesn’t make any difference,” Head-Maarek said.
“It is a blessing for a trainer to get a horse like that and you enjoy every moment of it.”
Since making a winning return in the Group Two Prix Corrida over a trip short of her best at Saint-Cloud in May, the Al Shaqab Racing-owned mare has got better and better, highlighted by her most recent victory in the Prix Vermeille.
It is the manner of her six-length victory in that Group One contest at Longchamp that has Head-Maarek believing she is back to her best.
“She is back to her best and is way above anything that I’ve trained,” she said.
“She’s very quiet in the morning. It is only when she goes to the racecourse that she knows she is ready to do something.”
But Head-Maarek is not taking the assignment lightly,
“There are some good three-year-olds coming over and you’ve got New Bay here. It’s not done yet,” she said.
“She will have to really go for it.”
While victory for Treve will guarantee her place in the annals of Turf history, Head-Maarek hopes it can also go some way to helping the French public feel a greater sense of togetherness with those involved in the sport.
“In this country it is not like in England. In England they love racing. In this country it is more difficult,” she said.
“Treve is making people come racing, which is very good. That is why I agree to open my doors and anyone can come see the horses.
“I’ve received people from the street. One day I was walking in the street in some area in Paris and this guy said ‘that is Mrs Head’.
“So I went over to him and he said ‘how is Treve?’, I said ‘very well’. I said ‘come see her’ and the next day they were with me. He loved it and went racing, and he had never been to a racecourse before. That’s how it should be.”
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