By Jon Lees
France: After wowing race fans in Japan, Mickaelle Michel announced her return to racing in her native France with a flourish, by winning on her first ride.
On the second day of the resumption of horse racing in the country, Michel guided Circle Of Hands, trained by Nicolas Caullery, to success in a 1m handicap at Saint-Cloud.
Smartly away from the stalls Michel made all the running on the four-year-old and had enough in hand to hold off the late finish of the Christophe Soumillon-ridden Canada by a short neck.
Michel, France’s champion apprentice in 2018, was able to claim 4lb under the rules in France which allow female jockeys to ride with an allowance against males, except in Listed and Pattern races.
Michel, 24, returned to France in April after a highly successful spell riding in Japan where her 30 wins on the second tier NAR circuit was a record for a foreign jockey on a short-term licence.
She plans to return to Japan at the end of the summer to sit the first stage of the jockeys’ exam which she must pass in order to fulfil an ambition to secure a licence to ride on the more lucrative JRA circuit.