A trip to Chantilly

My trip to Chantilly started with a very early flight from Dublin to Paris Beauvais airport. An airport that you would usually curse Ryanair for being a good hour from Paris but it was perfect for this particular trip. As soon as I exit the terminal, I head straight for the rental car pickup spot, get my car and start the journey to Chantilly.

The drive is about 45 minutes and it flies by as I pass lovely country side. It’s 10 a.m as I arrive into Chantilly and the town is not yet awake. It’s a charming town that likes to take it easy on a Sunday, the way it should be !

Arriving into the hotel, I bump into Jordan Vaughan who travelled over with Quiet Reflection, he informs me that she was bouncing when he went up earlier that morning , she’s in great form , all systems go.

Soon after Karl arrives, followed by Niall, Simon and Sally, all arriving via different methods of transport, all hoping for the same outcome.

We make our way to the track and Karl’s shows us around, it’s stunning . The view from the grandstand is beautiful, a magnificent building overlooks the back straight and the course looks superb. We make our way to the owners bar where we are joined by a group of our owners, everyone needs a beer to settle the nerves.

We are race 5 on the card, a 4:15 start local time. We have a bit of lunch and some of us have token bets on horses based on colours, breeding and no form. Some have luck, most don’t but it’s a nice way to pass the time.

As the jocks head out for race 4, we all head down to the pre-parade ring to check on Quiet Reflection, she’s a pro, she’s strolling around with a swagger, completely relaxed, unlike many of us for whom the nerves are in full throttle, it’s near, it’s very near.

We make our way to the parade ring, Karl gives Dougie his final instructions and they are gone, off to the start. We all head up to the grandstand and wait, it’s a long few minutes.

The sprint races at Chantilly finish about 2 furlongs further up the straight from the grandstand. It’s unusual in that over a 6 furlong race, there is still nearly 2 furlongs to travel by the time they pass you.

Quiet reflection breaks smartly, we are looking on the big screen at this point, glancing down the track to get an idea of how far they are away. As they approach, Quiet Reflection is running all over the horses in front, as she passed us Dougie is about to take it up, she’s winning, she has to be. She goes about 2 clear on the current camera angle and we think she’s won, then the camera switches, there’s another half a furlong to go and one is gaining ground, heart in mouth stuff but she does it, she wins, she’s a star.

Hugs and kisses flow and there is sheer delight upon everyone’s faces. It’s a magical feeling for her owners. A group winner in 2 countries, a group win on her first 3 year old start, a winner of 4 from 5 starts, a horse of a lifetime shared with a fantastic bunch of people.

We head to the winners enclosure. Karl, Simon and Niall all being grabbed by media personnel. Quiet Reflection is the coolest in the ring, we all give her a nice pat and get a few photos, the trophy is presented and we head to the owners area for some champagne. We are joined by Karl, Dougie and Jordan who all must take huge credit for the win. We talk for the next few hours about the race, general racing talk, the group are buzzing.

As racing comes to an end, we all go our separate ways. After a long, adrenalin filled day, an early night beckons, dreaming of the next chapter.

I sit in Paris Beauvais airport waiting for a flight home, flight is delayed for an hour but today it’s not a problem, no problem at all .