An Interview with Amanda Zetterholm

Amanda Zetterholm is looking forward to January 2023. That will be the start of her and business partner Noel George, son to UK National Hunt trainer Tom, training in France under their own names. Amanda was an amateur Flat jockey and rode winners in England, France and Italy. Noel was an amateur Jumps jockey and is waiting to finish off his training exams. Amanda has passed hers and anticipates the New Year marking the beginning of their new venture. They have tasted success already with Il Est Français, a horse Tom George had in their care when winning the Grade 1 Champion 4-year-old Hurdle last Sunday at Auteuil.

Amanda is Swedish born, where opportunities in racing were scarce. She became hooked on the sport after attending the Melbourne Cup when out studying in Australia.

Amanda and Noel train at Avilly Saint Leonard, ten kilometres outside Chantilly, at one of the impressive training centres. It’s a stunning location with tracks through the woods, oval gallops and jumping lanes fit for a king… or in this case some amazing four-legged athletes.

What is your favourite racecourse?

‘Auteuil – it’s the temple of racing in France.’

What is your favourite race meeting?

‘The Cheltenham Festival is just magic for any nationality. It would be a peak for us to have runners and winners there.’

What do you love about horse racing in France?

‘I love it for so many reasons – the beautiful racecourses, the culture, the food, Paris – just everything. We’ve had badly handicapped horses come over from England and have done really well with them here. The high prize money is a big incentive too, because it is very lucrative for owners.’

What are the perks about having a racehorse trained in France?

‘There are many! It’s financially better. For example, France Galop refunds the travelling expenses for runners that finish out of the prize money. There’s a great programme for young horses, for the three- and four-year-olds. By working alongside French breeders, we are able to source horses before they get really expensive whilst they are still in the field.’

What does French racing do better than its British and Irish counterparts?

‘Prize money and the race programme for the youngsters. Also, France Galop, which is like the BHA and Weatherby’s combined, has encouraged French racehorse ownership by making it easy for owners to open accounts. It is an amazing governing body who never fall short, even on maintaining the tracks and training centres.’

Who is your racing hero?

‘Jessica Harrington for being such a versatile trainer – she trains two-year-olds up to staying chases. And for being a woman in a male dominated environment.’

Who is your favourite jockey?

‘Christophe Pieux, 15-times Champion National Hunt jockey in France – by far the best jump jockey in French history. He was the equivalent of AP McCoy in British racing.’

Is there a French-bred that you wish you could train?

‘A Plus Tard.’

What is the one race, anywhere in the world, that you’d like to win?

‘The Melbourne Cup. Flemington racecourse is where my love of racing started when I was studying there. Makybe Diva was an amazing winner of three Melbourne Cups.’

The benefits of having racehorses trained in France are endless: better prize money, sunny weather, the cuisine, the wine, the chance to stop off in Paris en route to visiting your horse… this country has so much to offer both on and off the track.

 

By Jo O’Neill

If you’d like some more information about getting involved with ownership in France, please email [email protected]