About 18 trainers are based at the Deauville racecourse all year round and Stephane Wattel could not imagine training anywhere else, writes Liz Price.
After learning the ropes at the Alain de Royer Dupré yard in Chantilly, he returned to Deauville where he had previously enjoyed some work experience to set up his own yard in 1992.
Today, he is one of Deauville’s most successful trainer in residence, who has more than 1000 victories to his name, including some over the jumps. His only regret is that in the 30 years he has been training, he has never won a Group 1 race.
He did come agonisingly close though last year when City Light went down a short head to Merchant Navy in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and he recalls: “It nearly worked out, but he was beaten a nose. He ran great though, and we are very proud of him. I have had one or two other horses in my career that really stand out, but City Light is just extraordinary.”
City Light did return to Royal Ascot this year, but although he went there fresh, it didn’t work out finishing ninth. He will though be back in action later on in the year.
Wattel currently has 62 horses in his yard, many of them British-owned. A selection of them will be competing with the Parisian trainers who are descending on Deauville in the next four weeks.