Christiane "Criquette" Head (born November 6, 1948 at Marly-le-Roi, near Maisons-Laffitte, France) is considered to be the leading female racehorse trainer in the world.
Known as Criquette, she was born into the Thoroughbred horse racing business. Her great grandfather was a jockey-turned-trainer as was her grandfather William Head who was a very successful jockey, trainer, and owner in both flat racing and steeplechase events. Her father, Alec Head, became a successful trainer and breeder and the owner of Haras du Quesnay near Deauville. The eldest of three daughters, her brother Freddy Head was the champion jockey six times in France who now trains horses, and sister Martine oversees the operations at Haras du Quesnay.
In her teens, Criquette Head studied for three years in the United Kingdom at schools in Guildford in Surrey and Eastbourne in East Sussex. She started riding ponies as a child then at age 18 began competing as a rider. Trilingual (French, English and Spanish), she lived in Spain for several years before returning home in 1974 where she worked in a brokerage firm but decided on a career in racing. She began as an assistant trainer for her father and in 1978 obtained her training license. The following year the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe became a true "Head" family affair. Winner Three Troikas was owned by her mother Ghislaine Head, was ridden by Freddy Head, and trained by Criquette. Her victory in the most prestigious French horse race was the first ever by a female trainer.
The Head family has had a long association in horse racing with the Wertheimer family, proprietors of the House of Chanel perfume company and owners of successful racing stables. Alec Head trained horses for both Pierre Wertheimer (1887-1965) and his son Jacques (1909-1996). In 1983, Criquette Head took over as Jacques Wertheimer's trainer and In 1986 she was the champion trainer in France. continued to have great success with him and his sons Alain and Gerald until they ended their working relationship in August 2006.
Criquette Head lives and trains in Chantilly and is president of the French Trainers' Association. A registered bloodstock agent since 1976, she trains for other notable stable owners such as Prince Khalid Abdullah, John T. L. Jones, Jr. and Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Ms Head married journalist Gilles Maarek in 2000 and has a daughter from a previous marriage. Diagnosed with cancer in 2005, her health problems affected her work in 2006 but she still has more than 100 horses under her care.
Partial list of races won by horses trained by Criquette Head :
- Critérium de Saint-Cloud (1994, 1997, 2007)
- Critérium de Maisons-Laffitte (1984, 1987, 1989, 1997, 1998)
- Grand Prix de Chantilly (1996, 2001)
- La Coupe (1987, 1988, 1989)
- La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte (1986, 1990, 1993)
- Poule d'Essai des Poulains (2004)
- Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (1979, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1997)
- Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (1979)
- Prix d'Arenberg (1978, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003)
- Prix du Calvados (1982, 1995)
- Prix de Diane (1982, 2000)
- Prix Eclipse (1984, 1987, 1999)
- Prix de la Forêt (1983, 1990, 1997, 2002, 2003)
- Prix d'Ispahan (1995)
- Prix du Jockey Club (1986)
- Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère (1982, 2000, 2003)
- Prix Jean Prat (1991, 1996, 2002)
- Prix Marcel Boussac (1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2008)
- Prix Maurice de Gheest (1988, 1996, 1997)
- Prix Miesque (2003, 2005, 2006)
- Prix Noailles (1981, 1986, 1998)
- Prix de l'Opéra (1984, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992)
- Prix Robert Papin (1982, 1985, 1987, 1992, 1993, 2009)
- Prix Royal-Oak (1984)
- Prix Saint-Alary (1979, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 2003)
- Prix de la Salamandre (1982, 1985)
- Prix Vermeille (1979)
- E. P. Taylor Stakes (1984, 1985, 1992)
- Deutschland-Preis (1981)
- 1,000 Guineas (1983, 1987, 1992, 2010)
- Champion Stakes (1993)
- Cheveley Park Stakes (1982, 1987, 1996, 2009)
- Coronation Stakes (1993)
- Falmouth Stakes (1996)
- July Cup (1996)
- Racing Post Trophy (2003)
- Sprint Cup (2008)
- Krisflyer Sprint (2001)
- Beverly D. Stakes (1994)
People of English descent