08/08/2006 11:00PM

Head-Maarek loses client

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One of the longest owner-trainer relationships in the world has come to an end as brothers Gerard and Alain Wertheimer have parted company with Criquette Head-Maarek in France.

The French racing daily Paris-Turf reported Wednesday that the split occurred following a dispute over the running of the Wertheimer-owned, Head-Maarek-trained Quiet Royal in Sunday's Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. Quiet Royal finished fifth in the 6 1/2-furlong Group 1 Gheest, after which Head-Maarek described Olivier Peslier's ride on her charge as a "stinker." The resulting acrimony between the trainer and four-time French champion jockey has led the Wertheimer brothers to side with Peslier, their contract rider, thus ending their decades-long relationship with Head-Maarek, the world's most successful female trainer.

The Wertheimers had 24 horses in training with Head-Maarek this year.

Head-Maarek's fortunes have dwindled in recent years. Consistently in the top three among French trainers throughout the 1980's and 1990's, she trained 102 winners in France in 1996 but dropped to 12th in the standings last year with just 42 victories. This year she is in 26th place, having sent out 14 winners from 141 starters.

The Maurice de Gheest provided Criquette's brother Freddy with his first Group 1 winner as a trainer when he saddled the victorious Marchand d'Or.