In a week when top French jockey Thierry Jarnet announced his retirement from the saddle, it seemed appropriate to take a look at some of the best jockeys to have ridden, or are currently riding, in France – starting with Treve’s famous jockey.
Jarnet’s career has become most synonymous with Treve, and he was onboard the wonder filly for 8 of her 9 wins, including her two victories in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2013 and 2014. However, he was successful long before then. His first winner was a horse called Danini in 1985 and, having waited a further 6-years to ride his first group-1 winner, he won the first of his four consecutive French Champion Jockey Titles in 1992. He departs the saddle having won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a joint-record 4-times, and having also enjoyed Group-1 success in Hong Kong, Italy and England.
Peslier has also claimed 4 French Champion Jockey Titles and, despite massive successive in his native country, it is more likely he will be remembered for a globetrotting career that has seen him win major races all around the world – when he gets around to retiring that is. He’s another joint-record holder with 4 wins in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, including winning a hat-trick of wins in 1996, 1997 and 1998 aboard Helissio, Peintre Celebre and Sagamix. He’s also enjoyed huge success in England where he’s won The Derby, the 2,000 Guineas and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Meanwhile, he’s also won top-class races in Canada, Turkey, Germany, Spain, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Dubai and Japan. However, he’ll perhaps be most associated with the brilliant mare Goldikova – who notched an unprecedented Breeders Cup Hat-trick in the Breeders’ Cup Mile between 2008 and 2010.
It’s, amazingly, 20-years since the great Freddie Head retired from the saddle – but those who witnessed his panache and style will remember the 6-time French Champion Jockey forever. He came from racing stock, with his grandfather and father were both respected jockeys. His father Alec became a trainer, and they teamed-up to win 1976 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Freddie also enjoyed plenty of success in England, and rode Miesque into the U.S. Hall of Fame by winning back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Miles on her. He went on to train the aforementioned brilliant Goldikova to go one better.
Soumillon is technically Belgian but, as I’m never going to write a Top 5 Belgian Horse Racing Jockeys, he deserves a mention. The stylish rider is the number one jockey to the Aga Khan and, though he was French Champion Jockey in 2003 and 2005, he is more about quality than quantity. It’s an ethos that has seen him win 11 French Classics.
For me, Barzalona’s best year’s may be ahead of him. Who can forget his remarkable ride to win the 2011 English Derby, when he came from near last to first to win by a head. Most would have sat still and prayed for the photo finish but, such was the confidence of the young man, he stood-up in his irons and waved his whip in triumph. He then went on to win the Dubai World Championships in 2012 and, though big-race success has largely eluded him since, a recent 40/1 victory in the UAE 1,000 Guineas may kick-start his career.