Christophe Soumillon: back to summit as champion jockey in FrancePICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
Soumillon and Ricou return to the summit
FRANCE: Christophe Soumillon and Jacques Ricou finished 2011 as champion jockeys on the flat and over jumps, both regaining the coveted Cravache d'Or after a gap of several years.
Soumillon won the title three times in four years between 2003 and 2006, but had lost out to Ioritz Mendizibal in each of the last three seasons.
Despite the 15-day suspension which cost him participation in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the 30-year-old Belgian-born ace was able to keep pace with nearest challenger Maxime Guyon, while Mendizabal's title-defence was effectively ended when he was injured in a fall at Longchamp in September.
Guyon took up a contract to ride in Hong Kong at the beginning of December, which in turn allowed Soumillon to call a halt on 162 winners on December 16, six clear of his rival.
"Above all I am very proud," he told Paris-Turf before leaving for a family holiday. "It's very important to remain among the elite of my profession, and this proves I am perhaps stronger at 30 than I was at 20 or 25-years-old."
Despite reclaiming the title, Soumillon's new contract as first jockey to the Wildenstein family yielded only one domestic Group 1 success courtesy of Planteur in the Prix Ganay.
"It's a shame Planteur couldn't finish the season the way he started it, but it's a great honour to win a Group 1 in such prestigious colours," he said. "And I have great hopes for 2012, notably with Beauty Parlour [trained by Elie Lellouche for the Wildensteins]. She puts me in mind a little of Galikova the way she accelerates, and I hope she can prove to be top class."
Andre Fabre ended the season as champion trainer for an incredible 23rd time, finishing more than €890,000 clear of Alain de Royer-Dupre.
Andre Fabre: leading trainerPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Fabre was responsible for six individual Group 1 winners in France, while his championship tally of more than €5.3 million doesn't include a first success in the Investec Derby with Pour Moi.
His success was all the more remarkable considering that the stable was hit by a virus for much of August and September.
The Aga Khan retained his title as leading owner, with Arc-runner-up Shareta and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud heroine Sarafina his top earners.
Ricou became champion jump jockey for the fifth time with a total of 107 winners, 25 clear of Jonathan Plouganou, and passed the career landmark of 1,000 winners back in November.
Both Ricou and third-placed Bertrand Lestrade rely on Guillaume Macaire for their ammunition, and the Royan trainer sent out 251 winners on his way to a seventh trainer's title, finishing more than €2.6 million ahead of second-placed Jean-Paul Gallorini.
Flat Jockeys' Championship
Christophe Soumillon 162
Maxime Guyon 156
Ioritz Mendizabal 116
Franck Blondel 108
Fabrice Veron 93
Flat Trainers' Championship
Andre Fabre €5,314,290
Alain de Royer-Dupre €4,424,035
Jean-Claude Rouget €3,889,995
Freddy Head €3,202,520
Henri-Alex Pantall €2,439,190
Jump Jockeys' Championship
Jacques Ricou 107
Jonathan Plouganou 82
Bertrand Lestrade 74
David Berra 60
David Cottin 55
Jump Trainers' Championship
Guillaume Macaire €5,968,535
Jean-Paul Gallorini €3,295,980
Guy Cherel €2,984,505
Francois-Marie Cottin €2,907,235
Jacques Ortet €2,085,620