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Interview with Pierre-Charles Boudot

28 May 2013

Pierre-Charles Boudot is only 20 but he's set for his first ever Epsom Derby ride aboard Ocovango this weekend. We recently caught up with Andre Fabre's young jockey to find out more about him..

Just like Maxime Guyon and Mickael Barzalona, Pierre-Charles Boudot is making quite a name for himself in France under the watchful eye of legendary trainer and multiple champion there, Andre Fabre. At the weekend, he will have his second QIPCO British Champions Series ride and his first taste of the unique test of the Epsom Derby when he partners the unbeaten Ocovango for his boss. We recently caught up with him to find out more about him and to see how much he is looking forward to taking part in one of the world’s most famous races..

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got involved with racing?

I was born the 21 December 1992 at Paray le Monial, which is just above Lyon. My father (Marc) was a trainer. He died when I was just about to start my career at the age of 14. I was going to the Moulin-à-Vent (jockey school in Chantilly) and Mr Fabre. It was my father who sent me to Mr Fabre to get some work experience before I joined the Moulin-à-Vent. And the moment I joined the Moulin-à-Vent school, they immediately placed me with Mr Fabre.

I grew up going to the races every weekend with my dad and I would go pony racing when I could. My father mainly trained jump horses.

You are very tall so will you be a jump jockey in the future?

It might become inevitable at some stage, but at the moment I’m still holding my weight quite easily. Naturally I have to watch what I eat and I do a lot of other sports like running, squash and stuff like that. I am quite tall, like Christophe Soumillon or Joseph O’Brien, and you have to careful and try to lead a very stable existence. When you ride good horses, it is easy to be motivated though. 

When I arrived at Mr Fabre’s yard, Maxime Guyon and Mickael Barzalona were there already, as was Johan Victoire. I think I arrived one year after Mickael. I have won a group 2 race, but not a group 1 race.

Talk to me about watching Mickael winning the derby with Pour Moi and how do you see your fellow?

Pour Moi followed exactly the same program as Ocovango and both won the Prix Greffuhle. Now I hope that we will do as well as Pour Moi did.

Do you feel that you are under pressure seeing that Mickael won it on his first attempt?

No not really. I know my horse and he is in good shape. We discovered the track together, which is an advantage. He didn’t seem to have any trouble coming round Tattenham Corner, nor coming down the hill. He managed to find his balance despite the strong drop in the final straight. He went well. And me too, I didn’t have any problems (he laughs). I hope that everything goes well.

 I know that it will be completely different next week with all the people here and he can be a little bit on his toes going to the start, but once he is in a race, he is very professional.

Have you always ridden him and when did you learn you were riding him in the derby?

I rode him last year and we won. I rode him again at the start of this year and then in the Prix Greffuhle. I was hoping I would keep him, as I know him well, but I only learnt about it a few days ago when I was told that I was going to work him at Epsom. (His his eyes light up!)

Were you close to your father and what would it mean to you to win the Epsom Derby?

I was extremely close to my father and if I’m here today it is thanks to him because it was my father sent me to Mr Fabre. My father was the one who taught me to ride and who gave me my first advice. I hope that he would be very proud to see me here today.

 I have an older sister who is a hairdresser like my Mum. I’m very close to both of them. My father would have loved to have seen me ride and I’m always very proud to wear his colours. In fact, my mum kept his silks and it is a great pleasure to wear the family colours. When my father died, Christophe Provot was our jockey and he became the trainer of our yard. My mum still owns horses and is also a breeder.

What do you make of Epsom?

It is very impressive. Already this morning (at breakfast) there are more people here than we see in France. And I saw on the videos of the race that I watched that there are loads of people here on the day. That is just great.

I rode at Ascot (only ride in England) where I finished third on Brigantin in the Ascot Gold Cup and that was already great. There was such a great atmosphere and here I have been told I won’t be disappointed either!

How do you see the race unfold?

I watched the videos and I saw that there is a lot of pace in the race. That is different to France where the races often lack pace. I watched Pour Moi’s race a few days ago again and he came literally from last position. He really had a great run in the final straight. I think that Ocovango has the ability to adapt himself to any situation and I’m hoping for a good performance.

The way we work at home is really just perfect and Mr Fabre is a true professional. It’s not for nothing that he has been champion trainer so many times. He taught me so much and we have talked a little bit about the race already. He has explained to me the idiosyncrasies of the track here at Epsom. And so today I could see the track, which was great. And we have also talked a bit about the horse.

 I am very lucky because I’m only 20 years old and it is very rare that a young guy like me gets the call to ride in such a big race. I can’t thank the owner and my trainer enough for giving me this opportunity.

 Can you tell us a bit more about the start of your career?

I lost my claim (after riding 70 winners) quite quickly. I think it only took a year and a half. I was seventeen when I lost it. And afterwards everything just followed. I went on to win my first listed, my first group and now it would be nice to win my first group 1 when I ride Ocovango.

 I have ridden in England, Germany and Italy.

What would it mean to you to meet the Queen?

I have been told that her French is excellent, so I’m not too worried. (He smiles!)