By Jon Lees
USA: France’s newest G1-winning jockey Alex Achard found his match with leading US Breeders’ Cup Mile hope In Love thanks to a chance backstretch encounter with trainer Paulo Lobo.
Achard failed to register a single success when he crossed the Atlantic and arrived at Indiana Grand racecourse in 2018 to reboot his career.
However, 2021 has proved transformational with 45 winners on the board, a first graded-level win in June, peaking with In Love’s victory in the G1 Keeneland Turf Mile, a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar.
Achard and the Lobo-trained Brazilian-bred In Love are now unbeaten in three races together since their first date at Arlington in July.
“When I moved here, I didn’t really know many people,” said Achard, who rode his first winner at Moulins in France in 2010 when he was an apprentice with Richard Gibson.
“One day I was walking to the barns like I do pretty much every day. I guess a rider didn’t show up, and Paulo asked if I could breeze a horse and I said, ‘Sure.’ That’s how it [riding for Lobo] started.”
Lobo also had last year’s winner Ivar, who went off 4-1 second favourite behind Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia, but neither were any match for In Love who scored by a length and a half. Ivar finished fourth and Order Of Australia last.
“I was actually very confident before the race, but I didn’t tell anybody,” said Achard said. “For some riders it can be a bit of pressure, but I don’t take it that way. I really enjoy it because it is really fun to see people. I just love it.”
He added: “It was amazing because when the horse won at Kentucky Downs, that was huge. We knew that was a big step to run against Grade 1 horses at Keeneland. I got a lot of calls from France and the United States to congratulate me, so that was cool.”
• Visit the Keeneland website