Soumillon sets new European mark with 306 winners


Paris (AFP)

Two-time Arc de Triomphe winning jockey Christophe Soumillon set a new European mark for winners in a calendar year with 306 on Thursday.

The 36-year-old Belgian-born France-based star achieved both his goals this year of winning a ninth French jockeys title and breaking Pierre-Charles Boudot's record of 300 winners set in 2016.

Soumillon rode almost daily riding in 1,635 races -- a distance of over 3,000 kilometres -- on 965 different horses.

"I have maintained a crazy rhythm," Soumillon told AFP. "From January 1 this year I have put French racecourses at the top of my priorities.

"I have ridden each horse as if they were running on the weekend of the Arc de Triomphe (French racing's most high-profile weekend)," added Soumillon, who won Europe's most prestigious race the Arc on Dalakhani in 2003 and remarkable filly Zarkava in 2008.

Soumillon, who is married to a former Miss France, said it was simple to nominate which victory meant the most to him.

"The 301st which I won at the Lyon La Soie racecourse (on December 16th) because all my family and friends were there to share my joy in what was a crazy atmosphere."

Soumillon, whose annus memorabilis saw him also break the century mark for Group One winners when he rode Shakeel to victory in the Grand Prix de Paris, rounds off a record-breaking year for flat racing.

Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien broke the late American Bobby Frankel's 14-year-old world record of 25 Group/Grade One wins in a year when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, England, on October 28 and ended up with 28 in all.