However, in France, the jockey who was talked about the most in 2011 was Maxime Guyon. At 22, he is only two years older than Barzalona, who happens to be working in the same yard of André Fabre and is also a close friend.
The jockey also managed to add the Grand Prix de Paris, the Prix Jean Romanet and Prix Royal Oak to his impressive record. Success though is not something he dwells on as he says: “Actually I’m not sure how many Group One victories I had last year. I think it was seven. Seven in France and two in Hong Kong.”
For the second winter now, Guyon has gone to Hong Kong, an experience he enjoys but an experience that did probably cost him the Jockey’s title in France. He had been going strong, but then Christophe Soumillon decided to join the battle for the title and every day the two top jockeys played catch-up. In the end, Guyon had to honour his contract in Hong Kong, which meant he left France with still a month to go of the 2011 season.
When he left, he had ridden 156 winners which was not enough to stop Christophe Soumillon who took the title thanks to 162 winners. Guyon though doesn’t have too many regrets when he says: “I always knew that I was going to Hong Kong in December and it was difficult to fight for the title.”
He pauses and adds: “Sure I was a bit disappointed, but it wasn’t my first objective of the season. I will have my revenge one day, I hope. It’s important in a career of a jockey, but I hope that I still will have many opportunities to get that title. Who knows, maybe I will come here one year for the Carnival and that would give me the opportunity to complete the season in France.”
It sounds like Dubai has left a big impression on him and he confirms: “I love it here. I’m really excited to ride in the [Meydan] Masters. Dubai has such a great reputation and to ride in these conditions, against the best jockeys in the world, it’s great. I really would like to at least once in my life stay for the entire Carnival. So if I would get an offer from a trainer, I would seriously consider it.”
There is no doubt that he would be a valuable addition to the Carnival that already attracts the world’s jockey elite on a regular basis. For the time being though, he concentrates on Hong Kong and he concludes: “Last year, when I went to Hong Kong, I had a great season. I rode fifteen winners, including two Group One races. This time round, it’s been a little bit more difficult. I am going to stay a couple of days in Dubai after the [Meydan] Masters, as I have been suspended, but then I am going back for another month. And I hope with all my heart that I can still ride some winners out there and hence reward the trainers who trust me.”
It looks like the next generation of talented jockeys does indeed come from France, but it is also a generation that is by no means satisfied with staying there. Barzalona, Guyon, here they come!