Philippart de Foy Joins Newmarket Training Ranks


Kevin Philippart de Foy | Melanie Sauer


Amid a concerted effort from the French racing authorities to encourage British owners to race their horses in France, one new trainer in Newmarket is flying in the face of this promise of far greater prize-money.

Belgian-born Kevin Philippart de Foy served a long apprenticeship in Chantilly under the wing of Criquette Head and he recently completed a rounded education as assistant trainer to James Fanshawe. During his four years at Fanshawe's Pegasus Stables, the 29-year-old was bitten by the English racing bug and has decided to set out at his stall at Newmarket's historic Machell Place Stables, which is about to be vacated by Ed Vaughan.

“I arrived in England thinking I would go back to France to train but I fell in love with British racing. I've made some good connections and I like the lifestyle here,” said Philippart de Foy, whose mother, former jockey Brigitte Jacques, trains a small string in Chantilly.

“We are always complaining that things aren't going well but racing in England is in people's blood. Because of the pandemic people aren't going racing but usually there are so many people at the racecourse and that is something that doesn't really happen in France. Yes, the prize-money is better there at the moment but nobody goes racing.”

He continued, “I spoke about it with Criquette, who was like a mother to me when I was in Chantilly, and she really encouraged me to start training here in England. I know prize-money is not great but there is a really good international market to sell horses.”

Before joining Fanshawe, Philippart de Foy, who also rode as an amateur and a professional jockey, had a taste of racing stables in most of the major racing jurisdictions. From Head, he completed a stint on the Curragh with John Oxx and later spent 18 months working in America for Christophe Clement.

“Criquette always said that I should travel so she arranged for me to go to America to work for her former assistant Christophe Clement. The good thing about working for Christophe is you start in Florida, where everyone is together over the winter, but then when the horses go on to Belmont or Keeneland he puts you in charge of a barn and you are almost running a little operation yourself. He comes once a week and spends the day with you and goes through everything. His attention to detail is incredible and you learn so much from him.”

His time in Chantilly with Head has clearly left its mark, not least for the seasons he spent riding her stable star Treve (Fr) (Motivator {GB}), and Philippart de Foy is now in the process of assembling his own team to occupy the boxes of Machell Place adjacent to Warren Hill.

“I was talking with [Jockey Club Estates manager] Nick Patton about different options in Newmarket and then Ed Vaughan announced he would be packing up at the end of the season,” he says. “Colin Murfitt owns Machell Place and he has been very helpful and is sending me a yearling. It's a great location and a very well designed yard that was built in 1884 but has very modern facilities.”

Despite his mother's attempts to keep him away from racing, Philippart de Foy has long held an ambition to become a trainer before the age of 30 and, with a decent hands-on education behind him, he is now well on target to do just that. He won't be alone in the ranks of new trainers for the coming year as his old friend from his days at Clement's stable, Harry Eustace, is set to take over from his father James just down the road from Machell Place.

“There is a really good camaraderie in Newmarket among the young trainers and assistant trainers,” he adds. “Obviously I have thought a lot about starting up in the current climate with the pandemic continuing, and it is a worry, but I asked the people who are supporting me what their feelings were and their view was that there would be better value for money buying horses at the sales. In an ideal world I would rather have started at a better time but the yard was available and I felt that I have enough support from people who were quite positive about sending horses.”

Philippart de Foy has been recruiting his string since the summer horses-in-training sales and already has some older horses to race through the winter while the yearlings are learning the ropes.

He says, “I have some owner-breeders and I think in the climate you have to do some syndicates and partnerships, so I am starting up a racing club with a mixture of horses in training and some yearlings. If someone rings me and is interested in getting involved I want to be able to offer the full range of ownership options.”

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