Racing prepares to say goodbye as Criquette Head-Maarek saddles final runners
A glorious career will come to an end at what would ordinarily be a fairly low-key meeting at Chantilly on Thursday, though authorities are determined Criquette Head-Maarek should not be allowed to slip quietly away.
France Galop are urging racegoers to turn out in force to celebrate a 40-year career, which has brought Head-Maarek international recognition as one of Europe's best post-war trainers.
She will be honoured with video tributes and a special presentation, as well as a visitors' book for public and professionals alike to record their own tribute.
For those who cannot make it to Chantilly, Twitter users can leave their appreciation for the three-time Arc winner by employing the hashtag #MerciCriquette.
On Wednesday Head-Maarek was overseeing work on the gallops in Chantilly, as usual, and preparing to send out her final two runners - the once-raced three-year-old filly Damanda's Dream (2.40), and Monsieur Enzo (3.50), who will bring the curtain down in the concluding all-weather handicap.
They will be ridden by apprentice Adrien Moreau, who will hold the distinction of having partnered Head-Maarek's final winner whatever the outcome, having ridden Reve to success at Chantilly on January 6.
Head-Maarek said: "It was difficult to decide, but once I'd taken the decision to stop then it was a relief. I’ve got two runners tomorrow and I hope they run well.
"If they win, well done, but if they don’t, so be it. I’ve got funny feelings about it. Sadness of course, that’s for sure. But once I've decided something, I do it."
Head-Maarek, who will be 70 in November, announced on January 21 she would be retiring from training to spend more time pursuing other interests, including the Head family's Normandy stud farm, Haras du Quesnay.
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