Tributes pour in for Olivier Peslier following final rides

Andre Fabre labelled Olivier Peslier as “one of the greats” as the 51-year-old took his last rides at La Teste on Thursday.

Peslier announced on Tuesday that he had decided to bring his long and illustrious career in the saddle to an end, bowing out with over 3,700 winners to his name.

Peslier was out of luck aboard his final two rides, with hot favourite Nasser Al Shahania having to make do with the runner-up spot and Mana Sis was well beaten, but the Frenchman will undoubtedly go down as one of the greats.

Peslier and Fabre enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership until he took the job as retained rider for the Wertheimer brothers in 2003.

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Together they won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe twice, with Sagamix and Peintre Celebre, as well as a host of other major races around the world with the likes of Banks Hill and Dansili, as Peslier earned a reputation as one of the go-to jockeys in the weighing room.

“He rode a lot of good winners for me and was always a very good jockey and he had such a nice personality – I hope he really enjoys his new life,” said Fabre.

“What made him so good was that he had perfect balance and he was incredibly strong with it. He would never use his whip if he didn’t have to and he had so much self-confidence, he really was a great jockey.

“While he rode all the big winners in France, it wasn’t just France, he won races all around the world, like Breeders’ Cups and Japan Cups, that is the sign of the very best, going all over the world winning big races. He has been one of the greats, for sure, and a nice man with it.

“We had many good days together but I would have to say those with Peintre Celebre stand out more than most, just because the horse was so good, he really was outstanding.”

In 1998, when Luca Cumani needed a Derby jockey for High-Rise, with Frankie Dettori claimed for the favourite Cape Verdi, he turned to Peslier and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cumani said: “Obviously we couldn’t have Frankie, so we went for the second best!

“Obviously Olivier has been a great jockey, not only in France but throughout the world. As well as that, he is a gentleman and has been a great ambassador for France and for all jockeys.

“I’m sure he rode a few for me in France over the years and he has always been on the radar because he is a world-class jockey and has been a winner all over the world.”

Among the best horses Peslier rode was Sir Michael Stoute’s Harbinger, an 11-length winner of the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2010, owned by Highclere Racing.

Harbinger won the King George by 11 lengths
Harbinger won the King George by 11 lengths (Sean Dempsey/PA)

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Their racing manager Harry Herbert said: “Olivier was always great fun and he actually rode one of our first champions Delilah, who he rode a marvellous race aboard to win the Princess Royal Stakes at Ascot.

“He’s a joy to be around and such a lovely person and a truly great jockey. For all of us at Highclere, it’s fantastic he rode the best horse we ever had in our silks.

“I remember when he rode Harbinger in a piece of work before he went to the King George, he got off him and looked at me and said ‘Harry, we’ll win the King George and I think we’ll win the Arc, this might be one of the best horses I’ve sat on’. That was just from a piece of work.

“He said after the race, and I think he still says it now, that he was the equivalent of Peintre Celebre, so he’s definitely one of the best, if not the best he’s ever ridden. I don’t know how many champions Olivier rode, but this is one and they don’t come around every day.

“Every time one looks back at the King George, there’s a brilliant shot of Olivier unleashing him, he literally lets out an inch of rein and as the horse accelerates, Olivier is almost pushed back into the saddle – it’s the most fantastic sight.

“What a marvellous career he’s had, we wish him well in retirement and we’re obviously eternally grateful for the way he rode Harbinger and our other horses when we were lucky enough to have him.”

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