Derby dreaming: Mickaelle Michel chases German Classic glory on Nacido

Horse Racing Mickaelle Michel
Mickaelle Michel: will make her Deutsches Derby debut on Nacido in Hamburg. Photo: courtesy of Frederic Spanu

By Jon Lees

Germany: Mickaelle Michel is looking forward to her first ride in the IDEE 152nd Deutsches Derby on Nacido and is optimistic she can finish in the first five in Hamburg.

Former French champion apprentice Michel is set to partner the Yasmin Almenräder-trained Nacido in the €650,000 (£558,000) German Classic on Sunday. “I have a big weekend ahead in Germany,” said Michel. “This will be my first ride in the German Derby, in fact my first ride in any Derby. It’s only my second Group 1.”

While riding 11 winners in France this year, Michel has also been active in other parts of Europe, enjoying successes in Greece and Germany during weekend trips.

She partnered Nacido, a winner in Munich in May, on his latest start in Hanover when he dead-heated for third in a Listed race. He will start as one of the outsiders for the G1 feature.

Horse Racing Mickaelle Michel
Mickaelle Michel on Amaana at Hoppegarten: celebrating one of this season’s German winners. Photo: courtesy of Frederic Spanu

“Nacido was an outsider also in the Listed race but he ran very well,” said Michel. “I finished third. For me the distance was a little bit short so this weekend he will run 2,400m which I think will be better for him.

“He is not the favourite but he is very easy to ride. I think I can finish in the top five, and I hope to.”

Almenräder stands fifth in the trainer standings in Germany in 2021. “She is very excited to have a runner in the Derby,” added Michel, who has rides spread over three days of racing in Hamburg. “She told me to ride the horse like I want and to enjoy myself.”

Last year Michel, 25, rode 30 winners on Japan’s second-tier National Association of Racing circuit to set a new record for a visiting jockey on a short-term licence and in Europe clinched her first Group successes on Walderbe in Italy. This year she partnered the German stayer into second place in the Dubai Gold Cup.

She has continued to broaden her experience since she returned to France. “While I am still a younger jockey there is a lot I can learn from riding in other countries,” she said. “Racing in Greece is not popular but the tracks are very nice. 

“I ride a lot in Germany now as a lot of trainers ask me to. Every time I ride on a new track I try to win. It’s important that I can show trainers that I can adapt to new tracks and the different tactical challenges.”

Returning to Japan, where she has become a fan favourite, remains her ultimate goal once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted to allow her to travel.

Horse Racing Mickaelle Michel jockey
Happy days: Mickaelle Michel still has her heart set on riding in Japan

“I am waiting for the border to open so I can go there to take the Japan Racing Association exam in September to become a JRA jockey like Mirco Demuro and Christophe Lemaire, and  maybe I will stay there two or three months to ride the NAR.”

She added: “I love lots of countries and I want to ride in the USA as well, but I ride and I win in Japan and I know the atmosphere. They opened their hearts to me and gave me a lot of chances to ride good horses in good races.

“It’s important for me to pass this exam because if I can’t do it this year I have to wait one year more, which is a very long time for me. I miss Japan a lot.”

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