Few sports are more popular in France than horse racing. Racing occurs throughout the calendar year, as it does in the United Kingdom, with action over jumps taking place in the winter months before all focus shifts to the flat stars in the summer.
There have been several spectacular horses and jockeys who have represented France in the sport throughout history. So who are some of the most powerful figures to have ever represented France in horse racing?
There are few more celebrated French National Hunt horses in history than Baracouda. The JP McManus-owned horse was one of the most dominant French exports to the United Kingdom throughout his career, and he amassed prize money of £774,000 throughout his spell on the track. There was great sadness earlier this year when the legendary 28-year-old sadly passed away.
However, there was no denying his ability on track, as he helped create a new wave of fans for the sport. Baracouda landed the Long Walk Hurdle on four occasions, winning every edition of the race between 2000 and 2004. He would also achieve notable victories at Cheltenham throughout his career, winning the Stayers’ Hurdle in both 2002 and 2003.
There are few more popular races available at leading Sports betting in France sites than the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Eight horses have won the grand race multiple times, but few have become as synonymous with the race throughout their career as Treve. The filly landed a host of big race victories throughout her career, and she was named the European Horse of the Year in 2013 after going unbeaten in four starts.
Not only that, but she landed victories in some of the most prestigious races on the calendar, including the Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille, and Arc. Over the course of her career, she made 13 starts and was a winner on nine occasions. She landed prize money of over £6 million throughout her time on track, and achieved a career-high Timeform rating of 134.
While the Arc gets all the attention as one of the richest races on the flat, there are few more prestigious races over the jumps in France than the French Gold Cup. So French was the historic winner of that race on two occasions, winning in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017. Throughout his career, he landed three Grade 1 wins for trainer Guillaume Macaire, and this classy runner always came alive over the fences at Auteuil.
His first success saw him score a victory by a stunning four lengths, and that dominance continued in the following year’s edition. However, a loss of form before the 2018 race saw him sent off at 15/1, and he exited the contest at the first fence. His dominant chasing performances often caught the imagination, and his wins in back-to-back years around Auteuil are performances that racing fans still fondly remember to this day.
Of course, the horses often take all the credit, but the jockeys still need to show their quality when they are on board some of the best horses in training. A jockey that continues to impress on every display is Christophe Soumillon. Despite being born in Belgium, he has spent every year of his professional career in France. His early years were spent at the yard of Cedric Boutin before he landed a first-group winner when he was aged just 18. That success continued throughout the following year, as he landed Group 1 prizes on four occasions, which included success in the Prix du Jockey Club with Anabaa.
He has been an excellent cross-code jockey throughout his career, landing the French Champion Hurdle in 2010. Among the biggest victories of his career, Soumillon has won the Prix de l’Opera on four occasions, the Prix Vermeille on five occasions, and the Arc on two occasions. Overall, only Yves Saint-Martin has been named French Champion Jockey on more occasions throughout his career than Soumillon. However, given that he is still riding, an eleventh title may not be out of the question.
Racing’s Popularity Continues
There remains a huge love interest among French sports fans and horse racing, and that only promises to continue for generations to come. The biggest race days on the calendar attract record-breaking crowds, and the long-standing success of the Arc means that only more fans will be attracted to follow the sport over the coming generations.