Seven-time Breeders' Cup winner and Eclipse Award jockey
Julien Leparoux is this week's The Player's Edge guest. He shares his thoughts
on French soccer, Lionel Messi, whip rules and a difference between US and
European horse racing.
Follow Julien on Twitter: https://twitter.com/julienleparoux?lang=en
HRR: Let's start with the fun stuff, it looks like
you are a big soccer fan. Which World Cup, Zinedine Zidane's team or Kylian
Mbappe's squad and why?
Julien Leparoux: I would pick Zinedine Zidane's team.
They were so good and showed so much confidence that as a fan you were
confident that they were going to win. I was 15, it was so much fun to watch.
HRR: How excited are you that Lionel Messi is joining
Julien Leparoux: I am very excited to have Messi at
PSG. I have been a fan of the team since I am a little kid, and to have one of
the best (or the best) player in history of soccer is exciting. I hope they can
win lots of trophies.
HRR: Ok, on to horse racing. You come from a horse
racing family. What are your first memories of horse racing that implanted the
thought, I want to be a jockey?
Julien Leparoux: From very early on, my dream was to
be a jockey. I remember being 5 years old and riding the couch while watching
races on tv.
HRR: You came to the United States as a young man and
were one of the most successful apprentice jockeys ever. What advice would you
give to aspiring jockeys to help them succeed early in their careers?
Julien Leparoux: My advice from an apprentice rider,
is to take their time and learn the most they can before starting to ride
races. I was very lucky to have a great teacher like Patrick Biancone, I feel
like when I rode my first race, I was ready for it.
HRR: What advice would give as the biggest pitfall
that can derail a career before it gets going?
Julien Leparoux: I think you have to surround
yourself with good people and keep your head on your shoulders. No matter how
much success you have in this business, everything can go away in a second.
HRR: You've described your riding style as finesse.
What do you mean by that?
Julien Leparoux: I don't think I have ever said that
about myself, lol, but I heard people say that about me and I think it's
because I try to adapt my riding style with all the different horses.
HRR: Having ridden all over the world, which counties
have the most aggressive and most patient riders and what do you think accounts
for the difference?
Julien Leparoux: All over the world, you have great
jockeys with different styles... in the USA the races are run faster and little
more aggressive than in Europe.
HRR: Horse racing's popularity appears to be on the
upswing, we see handles and purses rising across the country and world at major
tracks and attendance figures increasing despite Covid concerns. What do you
think are the driving forces behind the increasing numbers?
Julien Leparoux: Covid has been tough on everyone in
the world, but I think horse racing have benefit from it in some way. We were
lucky to be the only sport that could still keep going and I think people
started to watch it more. I believe we have the best sport. There is nothing
better than a day at a track.
HRR: How do you think Monmouth's meet has gone with
its new whip rules?
Julien Leparoux: I haven't really paid attention at
Monmouth meet to be honest. I only watched the big races. I am not a fan of
their whip rule.
HRR: Do you feel the lack of the worst-case scenario
will lead to more tracks following New Jersey's lead?
Julien Leparoux: Like I said, I am not a fan of the
whip rule, so I hope not. I believe that we need a rule that protect the
horses, jockeys, owners, gamblers and everybody involve with horse racing
really, but I don't think New Jersey whip rule is the answer.
HRR: Speaking of rules, based your experience in the
sport of kings, do you feel nationalizing the sport via the Federal Government
will have the intended outcome? Why or why not?
Julien Leparoux: Yes, I am for Federal Government, I
believe every racetrack in America should have the same rules. It will make it
easier for everyone, especially for trainers that runs horses all over the
HRR: Finally, you are a proud father now, is there
going to be a third generation Leparoux riding for fans to cheer?
Julien Leparoux: It's too early to tell if my kids
will follow my footstep. If that's what they want to do, I will be more than
happy to help them.
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