French star Mickaelle Michel given chance to fulfil Japanese dream

Mickaelle Michel (left), who has been granted a licence to ride in Japan, with Nanako Fujita

By Jon Lees

Japan: France’s record-breaking female jockey Mickaelle Michel has taken a significant step towards fulfilling an ambition to join the riding ranks in Japan after securing a licence to ride on its local circuit.

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Michel will ride for three months on the local government run National Association of Racing [NAR] circuit – in effect the second tier – from the end of January and has ambitions to eventually graduate to the Japan Racing Association circuit, which stages the country’s elite racing.

Michel, 24, rode 72 winners in France during 2018 to set a new best in a year by a female jockey and in 2019 tried to broaden her experience by seeking challenges overseas.

In August she competed in Japan’s World All-Star Jockeys championship leaving a favourable impression when gaining her first JRA victory to finish joint third in the contest.

Michel is learning Japanese as she prepares to set the test international jockeys must pass before they can obtain a full year JRA licence.

In the meantime she will be based in Kanto near the Kawasaki racecourse where she will begin her stint on a circuit from which Nanako Fujita, the JRA’s only licensed female jockey first established herself.

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