Day At The Track

Aussie in Paris laps up Vincennes experience

07:32 AM 24 Jan 2014 NZDT
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Aussie trainers Blake Fitzpatrick and Ross Graham in the Vincennes stabling area
Photo by David Sanders
Blake Fitzpatrick after warming up Visconti du Home on rainy dark day
Photo by David Sanders
Getting the harness and gear set up before the race
Photo by David Sanders
Last minute instructions from trainer Anders Lindqvist
Photo by David Sanders
Heading out on the track for the race
Photo by David Sanders
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VINCENNES, France - If Blake Fitzpatrick ever gave up training horses he'd be a shoe-in for a diplomatic posting.

His dream drive at Vincennes on Anders Lindqvist's Visconti du Home turned into every driver's nightmare, the horse was struggling for breath after 2 furlongs and had tailed off long before the field had entered the straight for the first time.

Unfortunately Blake still had a lap to go in the 2850m race - and although he did beat two home, they had already been disqualified for breaking.

But while the horse was disappointing, the track had the New South Wales horseman effusive in his praise.

"The track was like nothing I've ever driven on. I was told it was good but it was unbelievable. Very, very unique. Like nothing we have in Australia," said a smiling Fitzpatrick afterwards.

"It was undulating. It has three straights not two. Beautiful turns and an unbelievable surface as well."

And while he was worried enough about the starts to watch videos beforehand, not the least that the instructions were in French - and of the only two French words he was familiar with, the second was fries - he handled it with ease. No language barrier to this starting gate - indeed it was yet another facet of French trotting that got the thumbs up.

"I quite liked their starts too," he said.

"There is plenty of merit in them. There is no standing, horses are on the go all the time. Very very few of the horses gallop away here."

But it was the unique Vincennes track with all its idiosyncrasies that will remain long in the memory. Not the least the famous hill in the back straight.

"You sort of come off the bend and head into the back straight and you start climbing straight away. It's quite a climb."

And he observed the horses had started to make their move before they even attacked the hill. And the tempo of the race, also was an eye opener. "They don't slacken off here."

So the Aussie in Paris put down a disappointing result to experience - and a wonderful one at that.

"We'll be back. But with a bit more ammo hopefully."

by David Sanders for


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