Horses and Hats - Prix de Diane (Part II)

Those horses are fast!  Even with my eyes glued on the viewfinder and my finger on the button of the camera, I didn't manage to get the shot that I wanted of the horses coming out of the curve with the Château de Chantilly in the background.  I kept telling myself to wait for just the right moment and before I knew it, they were gone.  My sister, an ex-jockey who is now the executive director of a therapeutic riding stable, has tried to explain to me the sensation of speed when you're astride a racehorse, but I didn't quite get it until yesterday when I tried to capture them in action.

Before the race, the horses and their jockeys join the owners and trainers in the winner's circle so that the audience can take a last minute look at the horses before placing their bets.  The owners stride into the circle, exuding an air of confidence, while the jockeys do their best to keep their mounts calm and steady.

With the thundering of hooves, the horses fly past the cheering crowds in the grandstand and cross the finish line.

While it's customary for a jockey to ride his horse across the finish line, sometimes he may find himself making the long walk on his own.

The winner is tentatively announced but winning bets aren't paid until after the jockey and saddle are weighed. The jockeys moved on and off the scale as quickly as the horses ran down the track. The scene reminded me of the public weigh-ins on the American television show, "The Biggest Loser", but the jockeys didn't have any spare weight to lose!

Unlike these people, who spent most of the day indoors pouring over statistics, I can't give you any tips on how to pick a winning horse.  Stéphane and I didn't place any bets, but we did enjoy watching our neighbors celebrate whenever one of their horses won.

Like the horse races, the day was over before we knew it.  Stéphane and I will be back next year with a bottle of champagne, some foie gras, a baguette, and yes, even a hat!

Related Post:  Horses and Hats - Prix de Diane (Part I)


  1. A poet once wrote about the relationship between a rider and their horse, "We be of one blood ye and I". As an equestrian there isn't anything more grand than the moments of perfect motion between a rider and the horse. During an atheletic performance, when the horse is giving you their heart, it is like time stands still as you hear them breathe and their hooves touch the ground. Poetry in motion. Thank you for the walk down memory lane, your sister, Margo

  2. When I sent an email to my sister, Margo, asking about the weighing of the jockeys, she sent the following response:

    Your pictures of the races are good and I found myself studying the jockey’s form in correlation to the horse’s stride. Then I realized the amount of time I was spending absorbed in thought. It is awesome to ride such a magnificent athletic animal such as the horse.

    As you know, there are differences between countries - horses run clockwise on racetracks in Europe, New Zealand and Australia, where in the states they run counterclockwise. There are more turf races abroad compared to in the states. In the states, jockeys are weighed before and after the races – it all has to do with cheating. Obviously, weighing in makes sense since the horses are to carry a certain weight and the officials are making sure each jock is weighing the weight expected. If a jockey is too light, he must carry lead to meet the weight requirements. When the jockey weighs after the race he can’t escape all of the eyes on him. He dismounts and walks directly to the scales – he should weigh the same as he did when he mounted the horse. Weighing after has only to do with double checking the jockey didn’t cheat by getting rid of any lead that he was supposed to carry. Weighing after in public looks good for the audience to show the jockeys are carrying the weight assigned the horses – all is correct and just for betting.


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