Sometimes horse owners have trajectories somewhat similar to singers. They work in the shadows, long before a horse speaks for them. Their hit, their tube, the one that immediately propelled them into the Top 10 and with whom they will always be associated. In the collective unconscious of the equestrian microcosm, Pierre Pilarski was and will undoubtedly always be the man of Bold Eagle. A son of Ready Cash as prolific on the ring as at stud. A UFO that allowed the “French fries vendor”, as he describes himself, to access the highest equestrian spheres, the frenzy of racegoers and the constant solicitations of the press. But what remains once the glory is over? This is the question we asked Pierre Pilarski this Monday morning after Poules d’Essai, in which the sixty-year-old had a starter.
“With Guillaume Macaire, I took remedial lessons”
“It always bothered me, when I watched Equidia, to skip every other race. So I told myself that I would try to see that, he begins, to talk about his turn at a gallop. And the obstacle has always seemed more accessible to me; not only financially but in terms of understanding. So I bought half a lot from Jean-Pierre Dubois, whom I had met in the trot, in which there was Feu Follet, Fiumicino, Fandango and two AQPS which were later resold in England, in end of 2018.”
Frank beginnings,and the man tells with pleasure at the end of the line. “I knew there was a lot for sale… Finally, Jean-Pierre is still a seller, he is a trader in addition to being a competitor, and fortunately otherwise I would never have had Feu Follet , I would never have had Making Moovies, I would never have had Bold Eagle. All that is Dubois breeding, father and son, in the plural. But before that, a few weeks before, I had bought a small end of an obstacle horse that was for sale and was going to Guillaume Macaire. And then, I decided to go a little further with this lot at Jean-Pierre Dubois, and I asked Guillaume Macaire to go see the lot and he said to me: it’s very good. So I bought half of the lot from Jean-Pierre, and a few months later, we bought back his share with Guillaume Macaire. is why today I have 75% of Feu Follet and Guillaume 25%.”
An almost fortuitous and decisive meeting with the western star tuner, which pushes the sports enthusiast into another challenge. Which pushes him to start from scratch. “Compared to the trot, the sensations and the emotions were not so different, in truth. Because there is a notion of education and training in the trot and in the obstacle. The flat is a lot finer. This is something I understand, it’s sport, training, education, gymnastics, adjustment. The obstacle is perhaps even easier to understand for me only trotting because there is a gymnastic side, a dressage side, that’s sport. When you swim, you do lengths, but you also need technique, repetition. In jumps, genetics also count, but much less than on the flat. It’s really something that I liked and I’m not going to hide it, meeting Guillaume Macaire too. It was more than a meeting, a relationship, because he’s a great trainer, but above all he’s a great teacher. We don’t hesitate to ask him the simplest questions, even the silliest because that he loves to share. I have the impression, in three years, of having had a permanent upgrade. It allowed me to take intensive courses, remedial courses.”
Together, the two men thus bind an intense professional relationship, as the owner had already had with Sébastien Guarato and Jean-Pierre Dubois, but also human. “I think that Guillaume is a curious person, in everything. And to see this owner arrive, I think it amused him and that it still amuses him. That’s it too, the meetings. I think that we have a privileged relationship, even a very privileged one, and it’s very pleasant. This meeting is really something that marked me. I have enormous confidence in him and I think it’s reciprocal.”
“When Guillaume Macaire saw Feu Follet, he immediately told me that he was an exceptional horse”
Corrida, art, vision of animals and sport, the common points between the two men are as vast as their respective experiences. But beyond the friendly understanding, the duo also shares, and perhaps above all, a taste for challenge, for challenge. A passion for competition that the tandem materializes around a foal: Feu Follet. “When I buy the lot, Guillaume explains to me that it’s very good and that he thinks that in the lot, there is an exceptional horse. “Which is wood from which we make high level horses? he said to me. He doesn’t tell me that we are going to run the Grand Steeplechase but that a Grand Steeplechase horse looks a bit like that. Me at that moment, I didn’t say anything to myself. I don’t even know not what it really represents, a Grand Steeple. I don’t know the program. It’s crazy, moreover, because the first times, he talks to you about Prix Congress, Cambacérès, etc., it didn’t mean anything to me “Often, he gave me the path of what a hurdles or steeplechase horse should do. Today, if you give me a name, I think I know roughly whether it’s hurdles or steeplechase, but I I’m not even sure! Afterwards, it will come when my horses have run all these races, all these categories, I would like to get there. But at the beginning, I did not tell myself that I was going to run at a high level. ers, I don’t think I’m telling myself anything. I just let myself be carried.”
Modest in his speech, humble, as in each of his public outings, the owner recognizes, however, having learned a lot from the Bold Eagle experience. But, implicitly, we also feel in his speech a little weariness. Automation, at least. The feeling of an almost professional ballet: getting informed, deciding, explaining it to the press, deciphering, informing race goers. In fact, when he embarks on this new discipline, the owner wants to start all over again. Relive his first love, the whole process. So, with Feu Follet, Pierre Pilarski relies on the experience of his mentor, his obstacle teacher. And despite some fears, like this spectacular evasion at three years old, on the Clairefontaine-Deauville racecourse, the colt takes the lead. And titles. First over hurdles, with the Four-Year-Old Spring Hurdle Race – Alain du Breil Prize in the temple of obstacles, Auteuil, then over the “big ones”, with a fantastic 2021 season.
But in 2022, the bar is set higher. It couldn’t be higher, even, since the seven-year-old will try his luck against the best in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris. With real luck. A new goal for Pierre Pilarski, multi-titled trotter, and a potential consecration for his trainer. Guillaume Macaire, now associated with Hector de Lageneste, his future successor. “This year, I think our main opponent is the other from Macaire, Sel Jem, analyzes the owner. It’s not just these two, of course, but this Grand Steeple represents something very important for Guillaume, it’s a seventh victory which would allow him to be the sole and absolute record holder in the Grand Steeple as a ‘coach. I would like to give her that, it would be really magical. Sel Jem is five years old, he has time to win (laughs)! I’m not saying it will be the last for us, but Feu Follet is seven years old, but it’s already his third Grand Steeplechase, we can clearly see that we are not immune to a physical glitch. It is still hard for organizations. So I think it’s definitely his year. We arrive in good stride, the horse is fresh. He only has one steeplechase race in his legs after his return from Compiègne (note: the Prix Ingré, preparatory race, which he won on April 30), he knows the course perfectly, he has run two Grand Steeplechase, two La Haye Jousselin, he was third two years ago, second to La Haye Jousselin two years ago… Without his little physical glitches, I think we could have won La Haye Jousselin the last year… Le Grand Steeple, I can’t say, because we were still in the race when it ejected Baptiste (Le Clerc). The horse is good, we saw in the preparatory that he could look Sel Jem in the eye, even if he was racing wisely. I think my horse will be ridden and we can beat the favourite. »
An optimism that he pushes to the end of the exercise: “If I am a forecaster, I place Sel Jem in the position of favorite, and in ambush Feu Follet. And then, of course, the Has from Nicolle (note: Niko Has). You don’t run alone but I think this one fills the boxes, so I’m going to have a lot of pressure there because there’s a lot behind it.”
Winner of the Prix d’Amérique, perhaps soon of the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, the businessman known for his franchise of McDonald’s restaurants seems unstoppable. Although? “I’m sure I’ll never win the Arc de Triomphe, he continues, no longer convinced, before supporting his assertion: because I’m almost certain never to run it. Why ? Because I will never have the means to buy a horse potentially capable of running the Arc. And even if a great stroke of luck meant that I had one, I couldn’t afford not to sell it first. A horse like Making Moovies, for example, if it had won the Poule d’Essai on Sunday, I wouldn’t have had the means to refuse purchase offers. So the question of the Arc does not arise. Maybe one day I will have the chance to run and win the Poule d’Essai but never an Arc de Triomphe or a Jockey Club. »
But D‘here there is another deadline waiting for the owner on the‘racecourse‘Auteuil. More than a Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, Pierre Pilarski could write a new page in history. For Guillaume Macaire, of course, but also for him who could, after Daniel Wildenstein, be one of the rare titleholders in the finest contests in two different disciplines.