Guillaume de Saint-Seine Elected President of France Galop

Guillaume de Saint-Seine | Scoop Dyga

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The 56 new France Galop committee members met on Tuesday, December 12 at ParisLongchamp racecourse and elected Guillaume de Saint-Seine as the new President of France Galop for a four-year term that starts immediately.

Three candidates addressed the new Committee. Saint-Seine received 25 votes in the first round, Jacques Détré got 17 and Louis de Bourgoing 14. The latter defected for the second round and gave his support to Détré, but Saint-Seine managed to obtain the required 29 votes to be elected in the second round, with Détré getting 25 votes (plus one blank and one void). 

Saint-Seine, aged 62, has bred and owned racehorses “for nearly 35 years”. He has been a member of France Galop's Committee since 2015 and was a board member between 2016 and 2019. 

In 2023, he has raced 23 horses, mostly in partnerships, as he's willing to share his passion with as many friends and outsiders as possible, labelling himself a natural and objective supporter of racing to the world. Among his best horses to date are G2 Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte and G3 Prix Eclipse winner Penny's Picnic (Fr), G1 Al Quoz Sprint and G3 Prix de Seine-et-Oise winner The Right Man (GB), and Listed winners Sagaroi (Fr) and The Fixer (Fr). He also bred 14 runners in 2023.

The new President has spent most of his career in banking in Paris and London. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of Natixis Banking and Investment company as Head of Coverage. He is a graduate of IEP Paris and holds a post-graduate degree in Finance from Paris IX Dauphine University.

“My goal is to perpetuate our traditions and modernise our sport to catch up with today's world,” he announced in his address to the Committee prior to his election. He also vowed to aim for more stability and visibility, both from a strategic and an economic point of view. 

“Frequent changes are what struck me the most over the past eight years when I compare how Racing is conducted with my experience as a banker and advisor at Natixis. Not a year goes by without a change in the way owners' premiums are calculated, regional race meetings are scheduled, or how marketing strategies are geared. It is the opposite of what we need because our activity is long-term. Whether you are an owner, breeder, trainer or benevolent, you live in the long term. Without stability and visibility, you simply cannot plan and invest wisely. We all need a long-term approach. That is why we will decide together, as early as the first quarter of 2024, on strategic and budgetary guidelines for the next four years. We all need visibility and guarantees to bring growth back.”

The new president vows to apply the same strategic and financial rules to the PMU so that instead of a yearly plan, the historically monopolistic betting arm of the French racing institution will also have to set up its strategy for the next four years. 

“I want to work with the PMU as I do with the large companies I advise on a daily basis: as a committed partner,” said Saint-Seine minutes before his election.

The new president also declared after his election that he would work immediately and tirelessly so that “racing would return into the French public's heart and soul.”

Arnaud de Seyssel and Frédéric Landon were appointed vice-presidents, the former overseeing Flat racing while the latter, who presides over the Fontainebleau racecourse, would manage jump racing. A third vice-president was nominated to deal with regional affairs, Philippe Bouchara, who is also President of Vichy racecourse.

The nine other members of the board are Hervé d'Armaillé (owner-breeder, associated member), Anthony Baudouin (elected breeder), Nicolas de Chambure (owner-breeder, associated member), Charles-Hubert de Chaudenay (owner-breeder, associated member), Pauline Chehboub (regional elected owner), Nicolas Clément (elected trainer), Philippe Germond (elected owner) and Francis Teboul (elected owner).

In an interview published last weekend by French daily Jour de Galop, Saint-Seine announced that he would appoint the deputy managing director Henri Pouret, who is also in charge of racing operations, to succeed Olivier Delloye as France Galop's managing director

Contrary to the last two presidents of France Galop, Saint-Seine is still an active businessman. His opponents used that situation as an adverse argument, claiming that the candidate, who started his campaign long before former president Edouard de Rothschild announced that he wouldn't run for a fifth mandate, would be too busy to rule France Galop properly. 

However, the new France Galop president, who vows to use his professional network extensively to promote racing politically and commercially, stated in his candidacy speech, “I will be the president of France Galop, who will preside in the full sense of the word. This is my commitment to you. A France Galop that is proud of its traditions. A France Galop that wants to rely on its two-century-old tradition of racing while showing that our values are also modern and timeless. I want our community to trust France Galop to stay true to its commitments over a long enough period to invest wisely.”

Even though Guillaume de Saint-Seine has been around the administration of France Galop for a while – he also directed last year a commission dedicated to the evolution of France Galop's governance whose conclusions were rejected mainly by Rothschild's team – his election could mark the beginning of a new era in the management of French racing's affairs. Challenges lie ahead of us, as racing has quietly receded in French society, missed the opportunities represented by the opening of the online betting market in 2010, which it resisted rather than embraced, and finally failed to adapt its global system to an ever-faster evolving world.

Yet, all is not so gloomy on the continent. On the breeding side, French sires and their offspring perform internationally, the sales are booming, French jumpers abound and succeed in Britain and Ireland, prize-money is by far above anything one can find in Europe, and French racing remains as one of the soundest, fairest and most regulated racing institutions in the world.

Guillaume de Saint-Seine might be the new man to drive this sleeping giant out of its gloomy mood.

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