Today’s Times has a piece by Adam Sage on Saonois, a favourite for the 2012 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. It’s behind a pay wall here, for those with access. Saonois belongs to 34-year-old village baker, Pascal Treyve, who snapped him up for €8,000 when he was rejected by the industry as being “too small”. Saonois started out at provincial race courses but rose to win the Prix du Jockey Club, nicknamed the French Derby. Altogether he’s won seven races and €1,743,000 in prize money. Now the same big names who rejected him are beating a path to the bakery door, waving wads of money. Sage writes:
Mr Treyve, who has always lived in Bellegarde-en-Forez, grew up with a horse-mad father who took him to the races before he could walk. He thought about becoming a horse and cart-racing driver before opting for baking because “I put security first”. But in 2004 he saw a foal, Cadran, up for sale and bought a 50 per cent stake in it. “It was dream I’d had ever since I was a teenager,” he said. “And I fell in love with that foal. I only bought half because it was very expensive. I said to myself, ‘If it turns out to be a mistake, never mind’.”
Cadran ran in 54 races and won €140,400 in prize money. So when Jean-Pierre Gauvin, a friend and local trainer, suggested buying Saonois, he was able to stump up €4,000.
Elite flat racing tends to be short on fairy tale endings, but who wouldn’t love to see the baker beat the Aga Khan and Saudi royalty?