ALEC Head, part of one of the great French racing dynasties, has died aged 97.
Head’s father and grandfather were both successful jockeys-turned-trainers named William, with Head following in their footsteps by riding before taking out his licence and being crowned France’s leading handler for four successive years between 1952 and 1955.
He won his first race as an apprentice in 1941 at Maisons-Laffitte with Sparkenbroke at only 16-years-old. He took out his trainer’s licence in 1947.
During his training career, Head sent out four Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners in Nuccio (1952), Saint-Crespin (1959), Ivanjica (1976) and Gold River (1981) and also won the Derby at Epsom with Lavandin in 1956.
Head, along with his father and brother Peter, also established the Haras du Quesnay stud near Deauville, with such racings greats as Prudent, Le Fabuleux, Bon Mot, Astec, Chaparral, Riverqueen, Detroit, Bering, Ravinella, and dual Arc heroine Treve either bred or associated with the yard.
The Head family has made its impact on the racing industry for more than 100 years. Alec’s legacy also includes the success of his son Freddy and daughter Criquette, who have both achieved tremendous accomplishments in the sport.
Freddy was a six-time champion jockey in France and is a highly successful trainer, while Criquette was the first female trainer to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1979 with Three Troikas, who was owned by her mother Ghislaine and ridden by Freddy. She also trained Treve, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2013 and 2014.
Freddy Head’s son Christopher is also now a trainer in Chantilly.
France Galop said Alec Head was the “heir to a family tradition, but also a founder driven by exceptional vision and energy” and that his name was “known to all” in “the four corners” of the racing world, adding: “To his wife Ghislaine, to his children Freddy, Criquette, Patricia and Martine, France Galop sends its deepest condolences.”
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, added: “He was one of the most prominent personalities in horseracing and has, thanks to his impressive career, deeply left a mark on this world. His experience and dedication to horse racing will remain a true inspiration for all of us. We will forever remember Alec and his legacy in this sport, and he will be deeply missed.”