Prix de Diane Longines (Gr.1)

Cricquette Head Marek in 1965



Ladies first


A dark horse took home the latest Prix de Diane Longines in what turned out to be a record breaking performance – as well as a family story.


Trêve is the name of the filly who won the latest Prix de Diane Longines also known as the French Oaks.

Recovering from injuries and having raced only twice she was far from the favorite. Most punters expected a duel between Qatar’s sheik Mohammed Al Thani’s filly Flotilla and the Wertheimer  brother’s Silasol – winners of Group races including the Prix de Diane trial – la Poule d’Essai.

But as it so often happens in the racing world a dark horse came first and in the blink of an eye : At 2 minutes and 3,77 seconds Trêve broke the previous records from 2006 and 1985.


The filly is bread by the Head family who’s colours she also wore.


”I think my father bought her great grandmother Trevilla. And I was winning with her grandmother,” said Criquette Head-Mareek’s brother Freddy.

To complete the family story, the Head’s recently welcomed Trêve’s sire, Motivator at their Haras de Quesnay in Normandy. A stallion, whose blood was one of the main reasons for the filly’s victory.


When Trêve was taken to the sales at Deauville in 2011 nobody  wanted her so she was bought back by her vendors for 22,000 euros.

A well kept secret it was hard to see her coming.


”I didn’t race her because I didn’t want to wear her down at such a young age. After I’d enrolled her for the Prix de Diane in February she had all sorts of problems; small things that kept me from preparing her for the race. But she came from a really good family.  To me, she was always a horse for the classic trials.

She had the speed and the acceleration that she showed today. The race was very fast and she was keeping up from behind but not very well. But when the jockey asked her to accelerate she did it in an easy manner and left the others behind,” smiled Criquette Head-Maarek after her victory.


”A week before the race I received an offer from someone who wanted to change her colours for the race. The sum was so important that I did not tell my family. I knew that if I would sit down and discuss it with my father, my brother and my sister, they’d tell me to sell her – and I really wanted to win this race. I’m only speaking of this now. We would never have the means to buy a horse like that today. We bred her, so we kept her,” the trainer said.

Her only regret was not entering Trêve for the Arc de Triomphe later this year – the Grand finale of the year.


”Too expensive and too much of a risk.”


Les Heads – a French family affair


For Trêves jockey, 46- year old  Thierry Jarnet, the Prix de Diane was his first. For Christiane – Criquette – Head-Mareek, it was the third time that she won the famous race. The previous two with Harbour in 1982 and Egyptband in 2000.

As the world’s best female trainer,  she has several Poule d’Essai under her belt as well as the Prix du Jockey Club with Bering in 1986. Add to that, several Group 1 victories in France and abroad as well as four 1.000 Guineas and Champion Stakes.

Criquette Head-Maarek is far from the first of the family to excell at the races. Her great grandfather won some of the most important races just as her grandfather.

The family stud, Haras du Quesnay was acquired in 1958 by her father, Alec Head who the following year brought in their first stallion.  Over the years he and his wife Ghislaine turned it into one of the leading stud farms in the country with horses acquired from across Europe and the United States. Criquette’s brother, Freddy, is a former jockey and a successful trainer. For her own part,  she also raced briefly as a jockey before switching to training in 1978.

The decision proved to be a good one.

The following year Criquette Head-Maarek famously won the most prestigeous race of the year, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Three Troikas – a horse bred by her father, raced in the colours of her mother and mounted by her brother Freddy.


Diane the Huntress – and her French prize


The Prix de Diane – raced in Chantilly in the former hunting grounds of the Condé princes – is named after the Roman goddess, Diana the Huntress. Fittingly so, as it is the race for the best three year old fillies with no less than 1 million euro at stake – 570,000 for the winner.

Prix de Diane – which is nowadays sponsored by the Swiss watchmaker, Longines who have turned the event into a major social happening – was first run in 1843 and it’s 323 meters short of its’ British cousin, the Oaks, which was founded several decades earlier in 1779.

It is open for foreign horses though it is usually the French who win.

With the magical numbers, 2.03,77, Trêve broke the previous record from 2006 and 1985,  where Confidential Lady (trained by Marc Prescott) and Lypharita (André Fabre) both passed the finish line at 2.05,90.

In comparison, the ladies went four seconds faster than their male counterparts at this year’s Prix de Jockey Club (the French Derby) where the first horse passed the finish line at 2.7’89 in the exact same distance of 2.100 meters.

While the fillies raced on a fast and sunny track, the colt’s surface was described as ”Good to soft”.  Facts and figures that are observed and analyzed by racing nerds – until dark horses come out to break the rules.



Below the race and its presentation