The latest riding sensation to emerge from France and still only 22 years old.
Christophe was born on June, 4th, 1981, the son of a jump jockey.
As a kid he lived in Brussels and used to ride ponies before joining Cedric Boutin
as an apprentice at Chantilly.
His first winner came in November 1997 at Maisons Laffite and in the following year he won 11 races.
He was crowned Champion Apprentice at the end of 1999 and won his 70th race towards the end of the year in Malaysia.
He started the 2000 French flat season as 2nd jockey to Andre Fabre, replacing Thierry Jarnet.
His first Group 3 winner came aboard Berine's Son at Longchamp in the Prix de Fontainebleu on April 23rd in the Edouard de Rothschild colours.
A week later he was back in the limelight with a record-equalling 5 timer at Saint Cloud, amongst which was a Group 2 Prix de Muguet win aboard Dansili and his 100th win.
In June 2000, he rode in two Derbies for the Godolphin team, both times on Broche where he was 5th at Chantilly and unplaced in the Epsom classic.
Then in June, 2001, he won the French Derby on Anabaa Blue and returned to the winner's circle crying with emotion.
Christophe came to Newmarket to ride in the 1,000 Guineas on Intercontinental and duly came a non-staying 3rd on the filly.
However, in the race before the "big one", Christophe won his very first race in the UK on the Amanda Perrett trained Self Evident.
Coming to the furlong pole, Christophe was locked in battle with the English Champion, Kieren Fallon, who looked like he was about to swoop on the Belgo-French kid. But quite simply, Christophe out-rode the "master" of Newmarket.
The stewards took exception to Christophe's slightly strange whip style in that he was flailing it about and not entirely in rythmn with the horse's stride pattern, not giving it time to respond. Whereas I would agree with the second finding (Christophe needs to be careful here), it suddenly became apparent how "gangly" he is and how he has to tuck in with his horse--which he does very well.
As he crossed the line, the importance of the feat was indeed "Self Evident" as he punched the air with a whoop of joy in front of an appreciative 17,000 strong crowd. Derek Thompson of Channel 4 TV was straight at his side and Christophe gave a post-race interview where he showed a good command of English.
Three weeks later, "Super Soumy", as he is now dubbed, was back at Kempton and rode a wonderful double on card. The highlight being the Listed Heron Stakes on the very promising Kalaman for Sir Michael Stoute.
Whilst he rode very well in the French Derby to lift it on Dalakhani, he cannot have been happy riding the horse in "no-mans land" on the Curragh in the Irish equivalent. This no doubt contributed to the horse's first ever defeat.
Christophe has the prime job of all jockeys in Europe in that he is stable jockey to Andre Fabre and is the Aga Khan's 1st jockey in France. Riding style-wise, Christophe is a mixture of Peslier with Cash Asmussen, although I would lean towards the latter as his long stature tucks itself into the horse very much like the Texan.
One thing that prevents me from proclaiming him as a potential "great" jockey is his resistance to using his whip in his left hand. To date, he uses the right and often to excess, which has earned him many bans from the French stewards in 2003.
2003 was definitely an amazing year with Christophe more than doubling his previous best and breaking the magical 200 barrier in France: unheralded since the days
of Cash Asmussen.
However, Christophe's coming of age came in October 2003, when he trumped his critics by giving Dalakhani a very patient and mature ride to mow down Mubtaker and claim a brilliant win in the Arc de Triomphe. Well done and let's see a lot more !
In the winter of 2003/04, Christoph had his first season in Hong Kong and got caught up in a fracas with Jamie Spencer whereby the stewards came down heavily on both with suspensions and fines.
To 2002, Christophe had ridden 328 winners from 3,042 rides in his career.
To the end of 2003, he had ridden 535 winners from 4,059 rides.
1999---56 / 597....14th
2000---68 / 746....10th
2001---88 / 778.....5th
2002---99 / 683.....2nd =
Group 1 Wins
Dubaï-Poule d’Essai des Poulains : Vahorimix
Prix du Jockey-Club : Anabaa Blue
Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud : Mirio
Prix de l’Opéra : Terre à Terre
Dubaï Duty Free : Terre à Terre
Grand Prix de Paris : Khalkevi
Prix Vermeille : Pearly Shells
Prix Lupin: Dalakhani
Poule d'Essai des Poulains: Clodovil
Poule d'Essai des Pouliches: Musical Chimes
Prix du Jockey Club: Dalakhani
Pretty Polly Stakes: Hanami
Prix Maurice de Gheest: Porlezza
Prix Niel: Dalakhani
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe: Dalakhani