JAMES REVELEY is to ride full-time in France where he is now on the brink of becoming champion jump jockey for the first time.
The North Yorkshire horseman was contesting the lead in the French title race with the multiple champion David Cottin, who is now sidelined for the rest of the year following a serious fall last weekend.
It remains to be seen whether the injuries will prompt the retirement of Cottin, one of the most experienced and respected members of the French weighing room.
Reveley, whose finest hour came in May when he won the prestigious Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil on the aptly-named So French, has risen through the ranks after teaming up with champion trainer Guillaume Macaire each summer to gain some more experience.
With each year, the jockey – grandson of legendary trainer Mary – spent more time across the English Channel and has now decided to concentrate on his commitments in France rather than shuttling to and from meetings in the north of England where the prize money is invariably small change in comparison.
Though he will continue to ride occasionally for his father Keith, who trains at the family’s stables near Saltburn, the jockey needs to commit fully to his burgeoning connections in France.
“He’s moved to France full-time. He’s buying a house and turned French,” Reveley senior told The Yorkshire Post.
“He’s level with David Cottin with 63 winners – but David unfortunately broke three vertebrae in his back and is out for the season.
“He’s 31 winners clear of the next man. Other than an ‘act of God’, he should be home and dry, but it is such a dangerous sport. Jump racing is a very dangerous sport and there are no guarantees.”
Reveley said it was brilliant to be in Paris with his wife Fiona when their proud son, 27, won French jump racing’s feature race of the year less than 12 months after landing its Champion Hurdle on the David Pipe-trained Un Temps Pour Tout.
“It was brilliant and it was marvellous we were there,” added the trainer. “I was in tears. It was marvellous. He has made the right decision. He said if he didn’t go there full-time, he would never become champion jockey and he wouldn’t be able to keep the good rides in big races.
“He’s already won £2.6m in prize money for his owners and he’s only halfway through the year. We just need to keep our fingers crossed and hope he stays safe.”
The title race in France is decided by calendar year – there is traditionally a big end-of-year celebration when the victor is presented with a gold whip – and Reveley, who started riding in Yorkshire a decade ago – is now Macaire’s ‘go-to’ rider.
Though the jockey’s father will continue to train for the time being, he does admit that “it’s not the same” without his son’s day-to-day involvement and that John Dawson, a longstanding rider, is leasing part of the stables to pre-train racehorses.