Trainer Christophe Clement Q&A with NYRA
Trainer Christophe Clement Q&A with NYRA (NYRA Press Release): OZONE PARK, N.Y. -“Life is good,” is a phrase you’ll often hear from trainer Christophe Clement. In 2014, life was very good for Clement, who is wrapping up his most successful year since setting out on his own in 1991.
The words not only accurately describe his current state of affairs, but as well his journey through life and daily disposition. It may sound like a cliché to some, but from the French born Clement it is genuine, and earned from many years of hard work and a dedication to doing things the right way.
Already known and respected for his prowess on the turf, a stellar dirt campaign led by 3-year-old Tonalist, further enhanced Clement’s reputation and proved his ability to win on the biggest stages on any surface. A son of Tapit, Tonalist captured two Grade 1 races on the New York Racing Association circuit, including Clement’s first Classic victory in the Belmont Stakes, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational. With supporting graded stakes wins from the New York-bred Lubash, who went over $1 million in career earnings, Summer Front and Aigue Marine, Clement achieved the highest yearly earnings of his career with more than $8.9 million.
Speaking from his winter base at Payson Park in Florida, Clement took time to reflect on the successful year he’s had to date and what he’s looking forward to.
Question: If you had to sum up your year in one word, what would that word be?
Q: Where does the success you’ve had with Tonalist this year rank in your career?
A. Right at the top, at the very top. It’s been a very good year for the stable, but we always continue to remain humble and work hard every day to continue the regimen and program we’ve had in place.
Q: Following Tonalist’s victory in the Belmont Stakes, you politely excused yourself during the trophy presentation in order to saddle a runner in the following race. What do you attribute to that focus and attention to detail?
A. For me, that was normal. Winning the Belmont Stakes was very important to me, but I have a responsibility to my owners, so being there to personally saddle the horse in the last race was also important.
Q: What does it mean for you, traditionally known as a turf specialist, to have won two Grade 1 dirt races in 2014?
A. Regardless of what I’m labeled as, it was great! I don’t resent being labeled as a turf specialist; however, it was a very good feeling to see this colt develop and mature throughout the year and win some big races along the way.
Q: Besides Tonalist, you’ve also had success this year with Lubash, Summer Front, and Aigue Marine. Can you speak a little on each of those horses?
A. They are each nice horses and performed very well in our stable this year. Lubash always tries his best in every start, Summer Front ran very well in his last race of the year – the Breeders’ Cup Mile, in a very competitive field – and we were thrilled with Aigue Marine picking up two graded stakes wins in her campaign.
Q: It was recently announced that Discreet Marq would continue in training for 2015. Can you comment on the year she’s had and what you expect from her next year?
A. That is correct. We’re very excited about the fact that she will remain in training. She’s a turf mare who always tries her best, and we’re happy to have her for another year.
Q: As you look forward to 2015 are there any particular goals you have in mind?
A. The goals always remain the same for the stable, and that is to have each of our horses ready to perform to the best of their ability. Regardless of surface, we just want to place each one on a track towards reaching their full potential.
Q: Family plays an integral role for you not only in life but also racing, do you want your children to follow you into the industry?
A. I would be delighted if they would, but the decision would have to be completely up to them. I want each of them [son, Miguel; daughter, Charlotte] to be happy in whatever career they each may choose.