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Girly Béco: The ‘Shrimp’ of Normandy

17 September 2021

Maxime Bézier is a "young" trainer who worked alongside his father for ten years. Upon the retirement of his father, he bought the stable located next to Laval in Mayenne, and now a trainer in his own right, has overseen operations these past three years. This week he will run Girly Béco in the Etrier 5 Year Old Final - Prix de Normandie, the feature Group 1 mounted race for five-year-olds’. 

A few years ago, Maxime, you were also a jockey in mounted races. What does the Prix de Normandie represent for you and what are your memories of it? 

I was a jockey a few years ago and mostly required only a few pounds (laughs). These Group 1 reserved to one generation are races to be won. We prepare the horses for them for months with a well-defined program. I had the chance to take 3rd place in this Group 1 with Prince de Montfort in 2008, a horse with whom I had also been 2nd in the Prix du President de la République and the Prix des Centaures. 

How did Girly Beco arrive in your team? 

Along with my father, Gilbert Cougé, who has been an owner for my father for 40 years, Hervé Guérin and a fourth partner bought the mother at the sales. Since Verveine Gédé was a broodmare, I gained the 4th quarter from the partner who did not want to start breeding. The mare was mated to Tiégo d´Etang and Girly Béco is the mother's first offspring. 

I remember the day she was born well because the person who looked after the mares called my father to tell him that the mare had foaled "a shrimp". Indeed, the mother was small, and the daughter is too. She sticks out of the box door, but she has to look up. 

This led to the choice of jockey Guillaume Martin for the mounted races because he is very light. Guillaume also has a light hand, which is good for her as she is sensitive in her mouth. You have to be careful at the start. 

Girly Beco won two Group races over 2175m and finished 2nd in a Group contest over 2850m. Is she cut for the 3000m of the Prix de Normandie? 

Girly Beco is a mare with whom we had prepared for the Prix du President de la République (G1) but we broke stride because of a horse ahead and it was over. Then, she had a few health problems that prevented us from aiming for the best events. 

The distance of the Prix de Normandie will not bother her. She is a strong finisher. The problem that can arise with her is just the form of her rivals, and there, she in top shape. She has just recorded her personal best time in 1’11’8 when winning the Prix Hervé Céran Maillard (G2). She will be barefoot: I had doubts in the spring because I was looking for what was wrong, but it was not that. I ran her with glued pads to reassure myself and to rebuild the hoof for more comfort. But she will run barefoot on Sunday in the Prix de Normandie. 

What are your ambitions ? 

We will be aiming to be 3rd or 4th. Grizzly Bear and Gladys des Plaines seem to be better than us, but the generation has opened up – without Guide Moi Forgan and Grace de Fael, the generation is looking for a new leader. Gangster du Walon is one to be wary of, just like Gloire Joyeuse. It's rare for a Prix de Normandie to have only ten to twelve starters. 

And then the winter meeting comes quickly after that?

Girly Beco will race in both disciplines: I might put her on the harness a little more, but it takes races of high rhythm to suit her. It's imperative. 

You have had a year where an average of 23% of your starters on the podium. 

And yet, I have had a bad summer with sick horses. I struggled a bit, but September is good to me. 

When my father retired three years ago, I didn’t have any old horses, so since then, I am rebuilding the stable and now I am able to have a new balance. I have a generation of ‘G’ (5yo) who will make good older horses and behind, horses in whom I have confidence for the future, like the 3-year-old Lebbur Leman who will be taking over and Jakartas des Prés who has just qualified very well. 

We depend a lot on the horses we are entrusted with. I hope to have a colt to race the semi classics soon. Running for the survival of the stable is an everyday work commitment. Finding ‘the one’ is what drives us.