Name: Mickael Barzalona
Job Title: Jockey
Mickael Barzalona became a retained Godolphin rider on March 2, 2012 and has established himself as one of the world’s leading jockeys with a string of stunning victories.
The Frenchman shot to international prominence in June, 2011, as he celebrated his victory on Pour Moi in the English Derby at Epsom Downs, UK, by standing up in the stirrups crossing the winning line.
Aged 19 then, he became the youngest jockey to win the premier British Classic since Walter Swinburn 30 years earlier.
Mickael Barzalona, born in Lyon, France, on August 3, 1991, hails from a racing background. His grandfather Christian was a trainer on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, while his uncle Armand rode on the Flat and over jumps.
Unsurprisingly, he seemed predisposed to a career in the saddle and grew up in the village of Maillane, to the south of Avignon in Provence, France surrounded by the indigenous Camargue horses, who are used to herd bulls.
The aspiring cowboy was given his very own Camargue by his parents at the age of eight and he soon grew to love riding his white steed called Isitar, becoming a part of the highly successful local horseball team which won the national championships on three occasions.
A flirtation with the region’s other sporting passion, rugby, almost threatened to deprive the racing world of one of its brightest talents as Mickael Barzalona played scrum-half for the local town of Chateaurenard.
However school holidays spent with his grandfather in Corsica persuaded him that his future was on the back of a horse rather than at the rear of a scrum.
By the time he reached 14, Mickael Barzalona had set his heart on becoming a jockey and wanted to join the local apprentices’ school in Marseille.
His uncle advised him to head north so that he could benefit from the more prestigious stables based near Paris. So he enlisted instead at the AFASEC school in Gouvieux, near to the leading Chantilly training establishments, for four years and obtained his BEPA certificate.
Mickael Barzalona’s uncommon ability in the saddle was already clearly evident and, after being recommended to Andre Fabre by leading jockey Sylvain Guillot, he started riding for the legendary French handler at the start of the 2009 Flat season.
The partnership soon flourished and the apprentice rode out his claim in October, 2009, ending his first year with 72 wins to his name. He also made his Godolphin debut the same year when sixth on Colonial in the Group Three Prix de la Rochette at Longchamp on September 6.
Renowned for holding up his mounts, Mickael Barzalona is a great judge of pace and spent the winter of 2009/2010 with Godolphin in Dubai, registering a first success for the most international of all racing stables when Sabotage won the inaugural running of the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on February 25, 2010.
His association with Godolphin continued to develop during the 2010 European season and he partnered Rio De La Plata who was just beaten a head by Fuisse in the Group One Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.
Another spell in Dubai followed during the winter of 2010/2011 and the jockey once again impressed with his ability, notching up seven victories for Godolphin including Splash Point’s success in the Group Three UAE 2,000 Guineas and the victory of Monterosso in the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold Sponsored By Emirates.
Mickael Barzalona further enhanced his reputation on the 2011 Dubai World Cup night when he gave Khawlah a superb ride to snatch the verdict by a nose in the Group Two UAE Derby and galvanised Monterosso to finish a close third in the Group One Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates.
He made an immediate impression on his first visit to England, winning on his second ride in the country when Ocean War captured a Newmarket maiden on April 13.
A first Group One success followed at Longchamp on May 22, 2011, as Godolphin’s Wavering quickened impressively to capture the Prix Saint-Alary and he recorded his first British Classic victory just 13 days later as Pour Moi came from last to first for a famous victory in the English Derby.
Mickael Barzalona partnered Opinion Poll to take second in the Group One Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and enjoyed another Group One victory as the Waldemar Hickst-trained Zazou edged out Rio De La Plata by a short-head in the Premio Roma at Rome, Italy.
He headed back to Dubai for the start of 2012 and experienced a superb Dubai World Cup Carnival with eight successes highlighted by a pair of Classic victories on Kinglet in the Group Three UAE 2,000 Guineas and Falls Of Lora in the Group Three UAE Oaks.
However, those victories were eclipsed when he partnered Monterosso for the second year running in the world’s richest race, the Group One US$10-million Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates, and won impressively when his mount went clear by three lengths.
On returning to Europe, he moved from France to Newmarket to become an integral part of team Godolphin and improved his English language skills through regular lessons.
Mickael Barzalona enjoyed a second British Classic success in September, 2012, as he gave Godolphin’s Encke a superb ride to capture the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.
He also celebrated further Group One glory for Godolphin the following month on board Certify, who routed the opposition in the Shadwell Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.
The jockey secured his 100th winner for Godolphin on board the Andre Fabre-trained Lava Flow in the Listed Prix de la Seine at Longchamp, France, on May 12, 2013.
Mickael Barzalona Facts & Figures (2009-2014)
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