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Alain Laurent: A Trotting Philosophy

30 April 2021

Alain Laurent has been the trainer of the ‘Joudes’ for so long that the suffix did not yet exist. In the elite echelon of French trotting, he trains Chica de Joudes, a horse who is always competitive at French Group level. 

When did your collaboration with the Vulliamy family begin? 

I started with the father of the current breeders but it was not in a typical way. When I started building my own stable over 30 years ago, I put in things that were seldom seen at the time such as a cleaning chain in the stables. Jean-Pierre Vulliamy was already placing microchips in the halter of his horses connected to the feeders so that they would eat 5 or 6 times a day in small quantities. We found ourselves having a joint desire for the well-being of horses . 

The 'Joudes' are not a precocious type but we had some good horses. The first horse with above average abilty was named Frisco Way. It was in the early 90s, before the creation of "Joudes" suffix. I won the Prix Jean Gabin twice with him, at Moulins la Marche (Editor's note: the racecourse created by famous actor and horse breeder Jean Gabin). Frisco Way, brings back great memories from back then. I still have a photo with the Vulliamy family and French actor Thierry Lhermitte, who was the sponsor of the race day that year.   

Jean-Pierre Vulliamy had three children. One of the sons took over the family breeding operation of a dozen broodmares in Saône-et-Loire at Joudes which had already produced champions including Artist and Atlas de Joudes. He leases females and places the colts into the sales. It’s a great understanding that has been maintained between this family and me. Although I can be a little shy, they are used to it and the passion for horses brings us together. 

You are notorious for not training horses like everyone else?

When I was 8, I started working on the farm. I plowed with three horses. My first foray was one of the mares from the farm in Normandy. One day at a racetrack, I fell in love with a mare, Ozo, and I left to do my apprenticeship with André Rouer. Gérard Mottier was my second boss. He was a dressage artist. It was a treat to watch him work. He amazed me. 

I don't focus on money and fame. I almost only have horses of my own. I am a bit like a hermit with my horses, but it is also the horses that have made me have the best encounters. 

I wake up in the mornings with confidence. I believe in what I do. I believe in my horses. I believe in luck and oddly, the more I work, the luckier I get. 

How did you live this last year without crowds at the racetrack? 

Not well. When I go to the races, I talk to people. It is sad and a long day without being able to discuss and talk. Maybe I am a loner, but this has been too much. 

The best known representative of the Joudes breeding is Chica de Joudes who will run the Prix de l'Atlantique (G1) at Enghien?

Chica de Joudes is quite simply the best mare in the history of Joudes breeding. She is exceptional at all levels: gentleness, kindness, value, class and sensitivity. She is happy to live, happy to work, she gives me a smile every day. 

The Prix de l'Atlantique is not necessarily the race I wanted to compete in. I had in mind the Jean Riaud Prize, named in honor of one of my former bosses. But the time was too short between her two last races. 

Chica de Joudes is doing well at the moment. She has raced three times in Enghien and won once. Behind autostart, her record is good with three wins from ten attempts. She has not raced often without shoes, only seven times in her career. In Enghien, I want to run barefoot. She has good feet.