Lemaire is New Stable Jockey for Aga Khan
by Mark Popham
Date Posted: 8/31/2009 10:34:49 AM
Last Updated: 9/1/2009 9:59:02 AM

The Aga Khan, one of Europe’s major owner/breeders, has signed up Christophe Lemaire as his new retained rider in France for 2010, replacing Christophe Soumillon.

Lemaire will continue to ride as first jockey for the Niarchos Family next year and they will have priority.

He has enjoyed great success with Divine Proportions, Pride, Natagora, Elusive Wave, Le Havre and Stacelita.

A statement said: "The Aga Khan Studs are looking forward to starting an association with Christophe Lemaire next year and believe this arrangement will work for them and the Niarchos Family."

The 30-year-old, who has had experience of riding in America, said: "I’m very, very happy and very proud to get this job. We work very hard every day to ride for big stables and this one is one of the best jobs you could expect in France. I’m looking forward to riding for the Aga Khan next year."

Referring to Soumillon, he added: "The wheel is turning and our job is made of some high moments and some low moments.

"It’s competition and even if we know each other very well you can’t allow sentiment to get in the way. The job is like that and you have to do it."

Soumillon, 28, the retained rider for the Aga Khan since 2001, reflected: "Obviously, it is a hard blow which I did not expect, but I don’t hold any resentment against the prince. On the contrary, he is someone who has played a significant part in building my career."

Belgian-born Soumillon, well known for his confidence in the saddle and gestures to racegoers after victories, has been most associated through the Aga Khan with the unbeaten Zarkava, whose five group I victories culminated with success in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) in 2008 and win with Dalakhani in the French Derby (Fr-I) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) in 2003.

An earlier statement from the Aga Khan Studs said: "After eight years under contract as the first rider in France, it has been decided as human relations have become difficult and after mutual agreement, that his (Soumillon) contract will not be renewed for 2010. This separation has been agreed on amicable terms and Christophe Soumillon will ride out his contract for the rest of the 2009 season, and he could well be retained in the future to ride Aga Khan horses."

Recently Soumillon was criticized for comments about Andre Fabre at a charity event jockeys’ gala dinner at Deauville Casino where he allegedly referred to the 21-time French champion trainer’s small stature in a snide manner. The jockey later apologized.



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