Alec Head, a racing giant has left us

William Head’s son, Alec Head was originally a brilliant coach, he was also the main coach for Pierre Wertheimer and Aga Khan at the age of 28. The winner of 28 European classics and 4 Arc de Triomphe, Alec will buy Haras du Quesnay in 1958, and will transform it into one of the largest ranching establishments in France, clearing some of the cracks , including Mr. Trêve’s latest masterpiece.

Alec Head at his home in Quesnay, with the latest Trêve gem pictured © Jean-Pierre Mauger

It is a very great gentleman of the French races, who has left us this Wednesday, June 22. 97 years old, Alec Head passed away today. Coming from an English family, Alec Head is the grandson of William Head Senioran English jockey married to Henrietta Jenningssister of Tom Jennings famous trainer Fighter, winner of the Epsom Derby. The couple will live in France in Compiègne and will have 3 children, including William George Henry Chief, Alec’s father. In the 1920s, he became a coach at Maisons-Laffitte, and racked up more than 1,200 flattop wins and 700 jump jumps. Born in 1924, Alec (Jacques-Alexandre is the editor’s note his birth name.) Head followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a jockey at the age of 16, and notably winning the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil for his father in the saddle on Recently in 1946.

Alec Straight into the saddle at Vatelys at Auteuil © APRH

Since the age of 23, after losing a lot, the weight has a problem and because of the desire of the young wife Gislain (born Van de Poele) to see him do a less dangerous job, Alec decided to become a trainer. Thus we are in 1947 when Alec settled in Mesnil-le-Roi in the yard of his father William. Success was short-lived, and it happened in both areas. In fact, in his second year as a coach, he finished in 7th placee ranked in the national dance rankings, and won his first Ranking with Admiral John during the Grand Prix du Printemps Gr.2 (now Prix Chaudenay). In 1950, after settling in Maisons-Laffitte, Alec took it a step further by winning his first Gr.1, with Genuine luxury on the occasion of the Prix Morning.


Alec Head, next to the young Prince Karim Aga Khan then 23 years old

1951 marked a new turning point in his coaching career, since he was entrusted with the horses of Peter Wertheimeras well as of Princess Aga Khan IIIthen his son’s Prince Aly Khanthen his grandson Karim. Furthermore, for the mythical green jacket with red shoulder pads for which Alec won the first of his 4 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Nuccio In 1952, he was only 28 years old! During the winter of 1954-55, Alec decided to leave Maisons-Laffitte to join Chantilly, leaving the stables to his father William. These years mark the peak of Alec Head, who topped the list in 1954 with 88 wins, before Francois Mathet, and was in the top 6 jumps over. In total, he has created an impressive record, winning five consecutive titles at the top of the list of coaches, and scoring no less than 24 European classics, including the Epsom Derby of the year. 1956 with lavender.

Alec Head of Sales with Alain and Gérard Wertheimer

In 1958, a year before his victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Saint Crespin, Alec decided to buy Haras du Quesnay, not far from Deauville. This historic site has a castle that dates back to 1602, and was converted into a stallion ranch in 1904, belonging to an American Abraham Kingsley Macomber. During the war, Quesnay was requisitioned by the Germans, who turned the boxes into prisons and repainted all the buildings black. Huge work was therefore needed, but not enough to discourage Alec. A few years after this acquisition, Alec gave birth to his first champion: Wonderful, who because of his father’s training would win the Club Prix du Jockey. Since then, some special horses have been born at the camp, such as Ravinella, Bering, Detroit, Zelzal, Fun and of course Ceasefire.

Queen Elizabeth II visits Haras du Quesnay in 1987

The Head family is a dynasty that has truly marked French racing for more than a century. Daughter of She Baseball will become the most successful female coach in France, winning the most spots in group 1, along with her brother freddie, six times the golden season and coach success after that. With Criquette, Alec will experience one of his greatest joys. In 2011, a chubby baby was born from the works of Motivator and Treviso was introduced at a fever sale but won’t find a buyer, its name: Trêve. Everyone knew her, this girl would go on to become one of the greatest in history, winning 6 Gr.1 awards including two Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Thierry Jarnet and Alec Head pose with Trêve © APRH

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