Chantilly Chatter: Carlos won’t forget cheekpieces again
Left Hand: a lazy worker but alive enough in the afternoons
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Chantilly Chatter: Carlos won't forget pieces again By Scott Burton 4:13PM 28 SEP 2016
THE Prix Vermeille has established itself as a decent trial for the Arc in recent years, thanks to the exploits of Zarkava, Solemia and Treve.
This year's heroine, Left Hand, is yet to capture the betting public's imagination, despite having won her last two starts and finishing second in a Classic.
Trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias is the first to admit he doesn't know the true limits of the Wertheimers' daughter of Dubawi, given that she is far from spectacular in the mornings.
"When she worked on the Monday before the Vermeille she had trouble passing her pacemaker, who is rated 75," said the Spanish-born trainer of Solemia.
"She wore sheepskin cheekpieces in the Diane when she was second but I forgot to declare them in the Prix de Psyche. I called France Galop on the Friday morning but it was too late to do anything about it. She took it so easy at Deauville that I think in another 50 metres she would have been beaten. You can be sure that, for the Arc, I will declare the cheekpieces before I declare the jockey!"
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My colleague Lee Mottershead took the good folk of Epsom to task back in June for the lack of evidence that the Investec Derby was taking place on their doorstep.
Chantilly is in a rather different boat, with about a quarter of the town's population estimated to be employed directly in racing, while France Galop have taken no risks that the other three-quarters might not notice the Arc will shortly be upon them.
As well as parking several sets of branded starting stalls in the middle of roundabouts, the organisers left virtually no lamp post untouched by thousands of flags and pennants in Chantilly, as well as the neighbouring communes of Lamorlaye and Gouvieux.
No journalists were harmed in the making of this film
With no Treve to entice the general media up to Les Aigles on autumn mornings this year, France Galop have leaned heavily on connections of Japanese Derby winner Makahiki.
Staff have gone to great pains to ensure that cameramen and reporters not used to a racing environment are briefed and escorted at all times, rather than being left to roam the forest and get in the way of the real work.
However you cannot protect all of the people all of the time.
After the end of Tuesday's press conference with Team Makahiki, several film crews went to the very edge of les Aigles in order to film one-on-one interviews with the ever-obliging Christophe Lemaire.
It was perhaps unfortunate timing then that one poor work-rider got dropped and a runaway horse came charging past, accompanied by frantic cries from the grounds staff of "don't move!"
The runaway was travelling too fast to be identified on first pass but, somewhat obligingly, turned round and ran back in the other direction.
At that moment his or her young and upwardly-mobile trainer – former Criquette Head-Maarek assistant Charley Rossi – may have regretted having an enormous (and unmissable) red letter ‘R' embroidered onto all of his work sheets.
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