JEvery gallop has burned itself into my head. The race in my head keeps going on like a movie. In the heavy final sprint, Torquator Tassos Speed unfolded to the full. For the last hundred meters I had a smile on my face. I could look my competitors in the face. I saw in their tense faces how they were fighting for second place.
Shortly before the finish line I was even able to think for a moment: “You can do anything, just don’t fall down”, this sentence was in my head. It’s strange, actually I never think about it during a race, I’m far too focused on the ride. I saw the cameramen on my right and cheered them on. Why didn’t I look to the left, at the full grandstands, at the people who were cheering me on? At the finish I let out a very short scream. Not really my style. Torquator Tasso relaxed under me – totally serene. He is a full professional.
I couldn’t even realize it at first: I won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the most important horse race – and also the 100th edition. “What is real and what is fake?” I asked myself. I don’t even remember what I said in the interviews afterwards. The cameramen, the thunderous applause, the photographers who accompanied Torquator Tasso into the stable. Fifteen minutes ago I was in the locker room with the jockey elite, there were legends there, I left them all behind me. How could that be? I was pretty tired, celebrating was out of the question. I ate sushi with my partner, then went to bed. I lay awake until three o’clock answering messages.
It took me weeks to understand what happened. To take part in this race was my goal in life. For example, when I’m on the racetrack in Baden-Baden, people come to me and congratulate me. Then I ask myself: am I dreaming this? But every day when I see the silver-plated triumphal arch with the horse on it standing in front of my television, I know: yes, it is true. A few weeks ago I visited Torquator Tasso in Mülheim. I fed him carrots and apples until he was no longer hungry.
Recorded by Stefanie Sippel.