Introduction of Thomas Fourcy
THOMAS FOURCY: "SHEIKH JOAAN WAS VERY HAPPY TO WIN IN MOROCCO
A former flat and jump jockey who has worked with the greatest trainers in Southwest France, Thomas Fourcy is now following in the footsteps of his masters. Based in Royan since 2013, the young French trainer is racking up prestigious successes and does not hesitate to travel the world. Following his victories last November in the two Group 3 PA races at the Meeting International du Maroc, he tells CDM about his irresistible rise, his projects and his exclusive collaboration with Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, as well as his view on Moroccan races.
He was a young farmer’s son from the North of France. In other words, nothing predestined Thomas Fourcy working with thoroughbreds. However, when it was time for him to seize his own destiny, little Thomas turned to the world of racing. A good idea since he quickly drew the attention of many trainers. In the end, it was one of the masters of jumping, Guillaume Macaire, who won. The young man then flew to the Charente-Maritime and the training center of Royan, where five years later, he joined the stable of another professional from Royan: Arnaud Chaille-Chaille, who is himself considered one of the masters of the profession, and who hardly hid him by designating him as his successor.
It was actually at his place that he discovered Arabian horses and met Hassan Mousli, a brilliant breeder of purebred Arabians who offered him to settle as a trainer in 2013. For someone who had almost 300 wins as a jockey (flat and hurdles), it was the beginning of a rapid rise marked by countless prestigious successes, both in Europe (Qatar Arabian World Cup, Qatar International Stakes) and in Gulf countries (Emir’s Word), as well as in Morocco, where he notably triumphed last November in both Group 3 PA races of the International Meeting.
Thomas Fourcy, how do you react to the minor miracle you managed last November during the Morocco International Meeting?
I'm very happy that I won for two consecutive years, and that I achieved a double in the Grand Prix of His Majesty King Mohammed VI. I was less confident than last year, but in the end everything went very well. However, it was not easy to shine because the Moroccan horses were there, and showed themselves to be up to the event.
What were the reasons that pushed you to make the trip for the first time in 2015?
I was not familiar with Morocco, but I am someone who likes to discover and take on new challenges. In addition, I had a good horse but it was slightly off in France. So, that's what pushed me to come, especially since it's always interesting to have a horse win a group race.
Why did you decide to send more horses to participate in the international meeting in Morocco this year?
We received a very warm welcome. So, I knew what I was getting into and therefore booked two or three horses to come and compete in the beautiful races.
What impact did your success in the 2015 edition of the Grand Prix of His Majesty King Mohammed VI have in the French media?
It wasn't really publicized, even though in the world of Arabian horse racing, everyone was a little surprised that I went to race and win in Morocco.
Do you think that this success has attracted many of your compatriots this year?
I don't know. Now, since I won the Grand Prix with a horse that was a bit limited in France, they may have thought: why not go there with our horses too? As there is money to be won, it is always interesting.
What is your view on the evolution of Moroccan races?
The level has improved significantly. The quality of horses is much better than before. However, at a high level compared to France, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, I believe it is still a bit difficult to compete. Nevertheless, Moroccans are making a lot of efforts to improve their breeding. They are buying good broodmares and taking good stallions. The level is improving and so, I believe that one day they will be able to compete.
How do professionals in France perceive Moroccan races?
Generally speaking, they have nothing but good things to say, since the feedback I got is positive.
Do you think that the new Marrakech racecourse and its future winter meeting will attract French professionals?
I can't tell you for sure because the trips are quite hard, and physical enough for the horses. But if there is some extra money to earn, why not.
How were you brought to work for Sheikh Joaan Al Thani?
It started after the sale of Arqana during the 2012 Bow Weekend, when Sheikh Joaan bought his first Arabian thoroughbred mare in France. The next day, I partnered with him in Derby des Pouliches and we won the Sheikh's first Group 1. It all started from there as Hassan Mousli, the mare's breeder, then proposed to bring the horses to me. The first year, I received only one foal, Al Mourtajez. Then little by little, Sheikh Joaan bought more and more horses and offered me an exclusive contract.
How many horses do you train for Al Shaqab Arabians, the Arabian thoroughbred entity of Sheikh Joaan Al Thani?
I have fifty thoroughbred Arabians in training, forty for the Sheikh and ten for Hassan Mousli.
Would you be tempted to come and race more often in Morocco?
If there are nice races or rallies with several trials for Arabian horses, yes. On the other hand, you need to make the trip worthwhile. So if it's to come and run only one race, no. Money is the main thing. Then, I’ll be open to all proposals of race abroad.
Does Sheikh Joaan Al Thani intervene in the program of his representatives who are placed under your training?
All Sheikh Joaan wants is to win big races. He gives me the means to achieve that and have good horses. After that, when he wants to win a race, he lets me know and we try to do what is necessary to bring the horse at its best for that race. Now, in terms of the horse's career, he lets me manage it without any problem.
Could we see him again in Morocco?
The Sheikh was very happy to win in Morocco, so I don't see anything wrong with it. In any case, personally, I have no issues with it.
What are some of the greatest moments you've experienced as a coach?
The best thing about this job is to win big races. I managed to win some in France, Morocco and Qatar. So, what are the great moments I have experienced as a coach? It's difficult to say because there are so many. Anyhow, since I settled down, I've been living a dream. I really didn't expect to win so many races, with so many good horses. Of course, there's Al Mourtajez and his eight Group 1 victories. But there are many others and I really enjoy this job.
How do you explain the defeat of Al Mourtajez in the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayyan Cup?
Initially, this race was not in his schedule. But the Sheikh's circle and himself asked me if the horse could run this race. Knowing that he had won 1.600 meters at Goodwood and that it was a good one, I didn't see any problem. Now, the race was run over 1,600 m, with a 1,400 m train on a sandy track. And let's not forget that this race came a month and a half after the World Cup. Even if the horse won easily in Chantilly, these are still real battles. So did he really recover well? I don't know. In any case, to me, the horse was not in its true form. He was offside right away, and that made him a bit nervous.
Is its participation in the last stage of the Triple Crown in question?
No, no, not at all. The horse is working well and will run the Emir's Word in February.
Apart from the Emirs' Word, do you have any other goals with Al Mourtajez for 2017?
We will try to win the Emir's Word. After that we'll see, because this is a horse that can maybe take a third World Cup.
What are your other contenders for the 2017 season?
I have a horse like Khataab, who has shown us some good things and should age well. So he should be targeting the top races this year. Similarly, I have a horse like Motrag who won the Derby at 3 years old and just needs to age well. Among the 3-year-olds, I have a nice group of colts and fillies. So this year, we'll see a lot of young horses but not many older ones.
In 2015, thanks to Alsaker, you allowed M'hammed Karimine to shine for the first time in France. Do you currently have other horses belonging to Moroccan owners in training?
No, because as I have an exclusive contract with Sheikh Joaan, I am not allowed to train for other owners in Arabian thoroughbred races.
Thomas Fourcy : Trainer of Al Shaqab Arabians (Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's Arabian thoroughbred stable).
Birth : December 5th 1979 in Doullens, between Amiens and Reims.
Particularity : Won about twenty Group 1 PA in the space of four seasons. A record!
Key dates in his career:
- In 1996, he joined the Moulin-à-Vent school in Chantilly and began his apprenticeship under Jean de Roüalle.
- In 1998, he joined Guillaume Macaire's stable in Royan.
- On July 3, 2000, riding Fast Travel, a horse trained by Thierry Mercier, he won his first race as a jockey.
- In 2003, he joined Arnaud Chaille-Chaille's stable in Royan.
- On October 2, 2009, he won his first Group 1 PA (Purebred Arabian) race, riding Al Charif.
- In 2013, he became a trainer in Royan.
- On August 4, 2013, he won his first race as a trainer, with Ya Hala at the Gramat racecourse.
- On August 16, 2014, he won his first Group 1 PA race as a trainer, with Bint Jakkarta, and then won another one a few minutes later with Al Mourtajez.
- In 2015, he retired from his career as a jockey.
- On October 4, 2015, he won the Qatar Arabian World Cup for the first time, with Al Mourtajez.
- On November 20, 2015, he won the Grand Prix de Sa Majesté le Roi Mohammed VI for the first time, with Al Antara.
- In 2016, he became the trainer for Al Shaqab Arabians (the purebred Arabian stable of Sheikh Joaan Al Thani).