Frenchman Peslier a Genial Genius

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to meet top French jockey Olivier Peslier, who got off the mark for Meydan last week on Jerry Barton’s So Shiny on Friday night.

Published: Fri 12 Feb 2010, 12:46 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:21 AM

Peslier has won pretty much everything, including; three Prix l’Arc De Triomphes, two Japan Cups, an English Derby, 2000 Guineas and a hatful of French Classics — plus two Breeders’ Cup Miles on wondermare Goldikova. Because of this CV, I was somewhat apprehensive about meeting the man who has been described as ‘France’s Frankie Dettori.’

But I need not have been. Peslier is as genial as he is a genius in the saddle. He comes across as extremely laid back and while admitting that nerves do get to him on occasion, he takes great care to ensure this isn’t visible to his adoring public.

Comparisons to Dettori come easily, as the two are just a few weeks apart in age and both possess bundles of charisma which is perhaps rare in such a tense profession.

Unlike Frankie, however, whose father Gianfranco was multiple Champion Jockey in Italy, Peslier does not hail from a traditional jockeys’ background as the son of a stonemason. Instead, he started out in pony races and progressed from there. Now, he has one of the best jobs in French racing, as retained jockey for prolific owners the Wertheimer brothers and is also the automatic big-race pick of many leading UK-based trainers.

Peslier has an unusual way of relaxing, preferring paintballing to the usual jockey pastime of golf, which he describes as “too serious”. He and his team are five-time European champions in this most unusual of sports and Peslier has already been to check out the two paintballing parks here in the UAE.

Tonight, however, his focus will be on the task at hand at Meydan where he rides in both feature races.

In the Listed 1000 Guineas, he gets the leg up on Barton’s unbeaten Chilean import Mensajera De La Luz, who comes here off the back of a win a Grade I over 1500metres and has a big chance, along with Goldolphin’s Argentine-bred Ishitaki and Mike De Kock’s Raihana, winner of the 1000 Guineas prep last time out.

In the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, Peslier has each-way claims on War Artist, who he rode to third place in the Group I Prix de l’Abbaye on his penultimate start.

This is a hot renewal of the race, run for the first time around a bend, as Godolphin return with Gayego, who won the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes in America since running here last year. Other leading players are South African Group I winner Our Giant and Doug Watson’s Musaalem, who was an eye-catching second on his UAE debut two weeks ago over course and distance.

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