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French jockeys answer call from Les Landes

Sport | Published:

Racing at Les Landes relies increasingly on professional jockeys making the journey from the United Kingdom to ride locally-trained horses.

French jockeys Davy Delalande, Damien Boutet and Corentin Smeulders outside the weighing room at Les Landes on Sunday

There was a time, 20 years ago and more, that it was the exception rather than the rule, but today it would be unthinkable, even impossible to hold a fixture without the UK contingent.

Mattie Batchelor has been a regular for some years, brightening the racing with his riding and the weighing room with his banter; Paddy Aspell rode here for the late Joan Le Brocq and more recently renewed the local connection with great success. Richard Condon, Stephen Cummins, Nicola Currie, Tom Marquand, Paddy Pilley, Philip Prince and Freddie Tett have all ridden here this season, not forgetting Alice Mills, last season’s champion woman jockey, and Tim Clark, a Jerseyman now based at Newmarket.

Fortunately, most Les Landes fixtures are on Sunday when there are usually fewer race meetings on mainland Britain and the jockeys are pleased to have the opportunity. But when we race on a Bank Holiday or, as later this month on a Friday evening, it is sometimes difficult for trainers to persuade a jockey to fly to Jersey when there are plenty of rides to be had closer to home.

One local trainer has looked to France for the solution to his riding requirements. James Moon has only a small string, but they include the highest-rated horse in training in the Channel Islands and in the past he has had difficulty making suitable riding arrangements. At Les Landes on Sunday three French jockeys, Davy Delalande, Damien Boutet and Corentin Smeulders came over to ride his horses.

Delalande had been here before. He made his debut at the delayed first fixture of the season in April when he won on Black Night and was unplaced in a hurdle race. After Sunday he has the enviable record of four rides and three wins with another victory on Black Night and a hurdle win on Veronica’s Napkin. His compatriots were less successful, each riding a runner-up on his only mount.

Racing in Jersey continues to improve. In recent seasons we’ve seen runners from as far away as Germany and now a French connection with jockeys promises to grow.

Racing at Les Landes is becoming truly international.

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