Jockey’s licence since 1997
Belgian-born and the son of a jockey, Christophe Soumillon joined the apprentices’ training school in Chantilly, aged 15. There he became an apprentice to Cédric Boutin, and he won his first race at 16 before being crowned champion apprentice the following year. At the age of 18 André Fabre called upon him to become one of his stable jockeys, and he was entrusted with some of his best horses. In the first year of their association Soumillon finished amongst France’s top 10 jockeys and he landed two Group races, including the Prix du Muguet on board Dansili. Classic glory followed in 2001, with Carlos Lerner’s Anabaa Blue in the Prix du Jockey Club, on the eve of Soumillon’s 20th birthday. A few weeks later, the young prodigy signed a contract as retained jockey for the Aga Khan. Soumillon’s first success at the highest level came aboard Khalkevi in the 2002 Grand Prix de Paris, when Soumillon showed the extent of his horsemanship after Khalkevi nearly fell in the final turn, only to get up in the dying strides of the race. Soumillon’s next Group I win came aboard Dalakhani, a horse that would leave an indelible mark on the jockey’s career. They remained unbeaten in eight starts in France, including the Critérium International, the Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. The 2003 season saw Soumillon, register an incredible 207 wins, breaking Cash Asmussen’s fifteen-year-old record en route to his first Cravache d’Or (champion jockey’s title). In 2004, he added the Prix de Diane to his prize list to become, at 23, the youngest winner of France’s three most prestigious events. The following year saw him win no less than 12 Gr.1 races, including the Queen Anne Stakes with Vahorimix, the Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille with Shawanda, and the Breeders’ Cup Turf on board Shirocco. Despite his many overseas raids, he still managed to break his own record for number of wins in France. His tally of 226 has never been approached since. And the momentum was showing no signs of abating, whether in Hong Kong, where Soumillon spent several fruitful winters, or in France, where Soumillon rode: a Gr.1 hat-trick with the exceptional Mandesha; a second Prix du Jockey Club courtesy of Darsi; the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and Prix du Moulin on board Darjina. In 2007, another superstar named Zarkava emerged. The filly remained undefeated in seven starts, all under Soumillon, headed by runaway victories in the Prix Marcel Boussac – on only her second run as a juvenile – the Prix de Diane, Prix Vermeille, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Despite such a flourishing track record, the relationship between Christophe Soumillon and the Aga Khan team deteriorated during 2009. As the Deauville summer meeting came to a close, the Prince announced his decision not to renew the jockey’s contract in 2010. The latter nevertheless signed off in epic fashion, winning the Gr.1 Prix Marcel Boussac with Rosanara, having suffered a broken elbow three weeks earlier and only stepping in at the last minute to replace injured Christophe Lemaire. The three seasons that followed saw him undertake successful trips to Dubai, Japan and many other destinations, as well as forging a close relationship with Jean-Claude Rouget’s stable… and win two Gr.1 races over hurdles at Auteuil. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Christophe Soumillon won more champion jockeys’s titles, (6 in total) and established a new record of 228 victories; in 2014, he became the retained jockey for His Highness the Aga Khan for the second time.