Day At The Track

An Aussie gets a drive at Vincennes on Friday

09:58 AM 23 Jan 2014 NZDT
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Harness racing Blake Fitzpatrick, harness racing
Blake Fitzpatrick gets some advice from Thierry Duvaldestin while Ready Cash looks on
Photo by David Sanders
Blake Fitzpatrick enjoys the view from the Vincennes restaurant during the Prix Cornulier
Photo by David Sanders
VINCENNES, France - The international flavour of Prix d'Amerique week just got a little down under ingredient with top Australian trainer and driver Blake Fitzpatrick picking up a catch drive at Vincennes tomorrow.

Group one winning trainer Fitzpatrick will be aboard Visconti du Home who is trained by France based Swede Anders Lindqvist in the Prix de Mons, a race for 5YOs for 22000 euros over 2850m and race 5 on the programme at the Temple du Trot.

For Fitzpatrick, the drive is the highlight of a whistle stop fact finding tour of France taking in some of the top training and breeding estabishments and a week of some of the word's best trotting action in the company of fellow trainer and driver Ross Graham, and trotting owner and stable client Pat Driscoll.

Although Fitzpatrick is a group one winning trainer and driver in his native Australia, he admitted the thought of driving in the Temple du Trot was a daunting one.

"It's a different style of racing and driving, especially the starts. They are completely different to what we are used to. It's going to be difficult that is for sure,' Fitzpatrick said.

"So I'm quite anxious but It'll be a great experience, just to say I've driven at VIncennes It has a lot of history and a very famous track. I can't wait."

Fitzpatrick has visited some of the very best training and breeding establishments in Normandy over the past few days and has been observing first hand how superstar trotters such as Ready Cash, The Best Madrik and Un Mec d'Heripre are put through their paces.

"I've been very lucky we have met racing royalty over here," says Fitzpatrick. "On the first day we spoke with Thierry Duvalsdestin and then Mr Jean-Etienne Dubois today and we saw Fabrice Solouy work his horses yesterday. We really learnt a lot, they have been very welcoming.

"There are probably no one better to get advice from and that gives me a head start."

And the New South Wales horseman was also impressed by Vincennes when he visited it last Saturday to view the Prix de Cornulier.

"The track has a lot of history around it and is quite unique. Firstly the facilities are first rate. As far as the track goes it is quite unique in that it is undulating, beautiful 2000m track with the starting shuts and the smaller track on the inside, the surface is the most appealing part of the track for me - it is the perfect track for horses.

"It will be a once in a lifetime, something you will never forget."

So how is he going to approach his first time at the Hippodrome de Paris.

"It is all new to me. I will probably follow out one of the better drivers. I'm probably surrounded by better drivers so it wouldn't matter who I followed.

"It's quite daunting, surrounded by champions."

by David Sanders for


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