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Kelly Spencer's Blog


Prix d' Amerique . . . wow!

Published: January 25, 2009 4:10 pm ET

Last Comment: January 26, 2009 7:11 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

As promised, here is your Prix d' Amerique wrap-up. I lived to tell the tale, although it was touch-and-go for a few of the other photographers! The post-race frenzy looks wild on TV. In fact, it's utter mayhem.

Hundreds of photographers, videographers, journalists and dignitaries swarmed the winner, Meaulnes Du Corta, upon return to centrestage. The capacity crowd of 40,000 roared and swayed. It was nearly religious.

I was enthralled as I ran on-track to catch the masses. My glee was quickly interrupted when a fellow photographer was knocked down and briefly trampled by his peers. (I say 'briefly' because he popped back up under his own steam; dangerous occupation, this!).

So, that was my first major media scrum. My friend Courtney spent the entire day protecting her spot on the photographers' platform along the finish line. At post time for the Prix, she said the platform nearly toppled as a mob clawed at the back of the structure, desperate for higher ground to afford a better view.

I spent most of the day shooting in the backstretch, which is designed like a small village -- resembling nothing like the traditional paddock structure I'm used to. I had full access to all of the stalls and walking rings. Participants and horses in the nine-race card were constantly manouvering through dozens of intrusive media personnel (including moi). If they minded, they masked it well. The horses -- many of which were hulking chestnuts -- seemed oblivious to the hubbub.

The heads-held-high connections of the horses were all over the backstretch. I've never had much occasion to see $900 high heeled shoes, let alone $900 high heeled shoes standing just inches away from fresh manure.

At post time, I elbowed my way between two very tall French photographers, and shot the whole race on tiptoe. Eighteen trotters travel 2700 meters over a strange course that is made of crushed cinders. So weird and wonderful!

I saw and experienced a lot of of firsts today; it seems Paris is full of them. The Prix was an incredible experience. As several people promised, it rejuvenated my hopes for the North American racing product and stomped my January-racing-blahs.

January 26, 2009 - 7:11 pmWow, that's amazing! Now,

Kristin (not verified) SAID...

Wow, that's amazing! Now, how do we bring that enthusiasm and love of the sport over here?

January 26, 2009 - 10:01 amI am glad Kelly had this

Gerard Spoor (not verified) SAID...

I am glad Kelly had this opportunity. Having followed the race since "Gelinotte" I was lucky enough through the years to get an insight into the organisation and structure in France that makes events like this work. It all starts in Chartres, Nantes, Biaritz, Cagnes and with support of the many French racing clubs at the many rural tracks for the "Main Event", their "OWN" national tote and their vast sales network.
The PMU's experience as a sponsor of the "Green Jersey" in the Tour de France and Roland Garros Tennis has not only given them great branding of their name but the experience has been carried forward to racing also. Add "Equidia", and it gets pretty good.
We have a long way to go but, hey, anything is possible!

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