'I do love the breeding side of the sport' - Sibylle Vogt on what makes her tick
Kitty Trice speaks to the Classic-winning rider about her burgeoning career
Sibylle Vogt has just returned from winning the final contest on Baden-Baden’s 11-race card. One of the sport’s pioneering female riders and a Classic-winning jockey no less, she has plenty to say on everything from riding in Saudi Arabia to her favourite sires and which race she would love to win.
It is just after 7pm on a gloriously sunny and warm September evening, minutes after Vogt emerges from having her photo taken and receiving her prize to a generous round of applause. The second rider to Arc-winning trainer Peter Schiergen takes the congratulations and pats on the back in her stride. She is, after all, rapidly becoming a seasoned pro.
One of the most notable aspects of the sport in Germany is the number of children, teenagers and families that go racing on days like this, contributing to the track’s relaxed and genteel atmosphere.
Perhaps there is another Sibylle Vogt taking it all in as bargain bucket Tattersalls July Sale purchase Kitty Marion and the rather pricier Arqana August Sale graduate Waldbiene secure the two Group-race highlights of the afternoon.
Swiss-born Vogt is herself the very image of a horse-mad girl, one who grew up around them and first took to the saddle at a young age.
The diminutive rider, who can do a handy 8st 2lb, moved to Germany five years ago to work for Markus Klug, before becoming first jockey to trainer Carmen Bocksai, a supporter during her early years in Switzerland.
Her breakthrough year of 2020 was topped off with her appointment to the powerful Cologne-based stable of Schiergen, the first time a female jockey had bagged such a prestigious role in Germany.
“I come from Switzerland and began riding when I was five, although they weren’t racehorses,” says Vogt. “I began riding racehorses when I was 13.”
Vogt’s post-riding gear and bright blonde hair are more akin to someone out of a Hollywood studio than a racetrack, and indeed in the last 18 months taking centre stage has become second nature as her career and profile have taken off in steep ascendancy.
The upward curve began when she won the international jockeys’ challenge at the inaugural Saudi Cup meeting last February, upstaging the likes of Frankie Dettori, Olivier Peslier and Yutaka Take, since when Vogt has leapt from that springboard to her new job and further Pattern-race triumphs, most notably of all the seven-and-a-half-length demolition aboard Novemba in the German 1,000 Guineas this year.
“I’m hoping that I can win another Group race here this year,” says Vogt, 26. “I’ve had a really good couple of years, including when winning the challenge in Saudi Arabia, and that gave me the leg up to ride in more Group races in Germany.”
The victory at Dusseldorf on Gleneagles’ daughter Novemba, trained by her boss Schiergen, was hugely significant, not just for Vogt but the sport generally, for it saw her become the first female jockey to land any Classic that is part of the European Pattern - in other words, those in Britain, Ireland, France, Germany or Italy.
The Group 2 success was her biggest yet, building on a couple of earlier Group 3 strikes, the first coming on Winterfuchs in the 2019 Dr Busch-Memorial at Krefeld, while she also has four Listed victories to her name plus plenty of wins in France, where she has taken good advantage of the 1.5kg allowance for women.
Our conversation, taking place just outside the previously bustling jockeys’ room behind the picturesque winner’s enclosure, has turned to that marvellous May day, and a beaming Vogt seems only too pleased to rake over it.
“This year I won the 1,000 Guineas with Novemba and that was the best race of my career,” she says. “She's a really good filly and won by a wide margin.
“She was really hot at two and really nervous before she raced, but now she’s really cool and knows what to do.”
Gestut Brummerhof’s homebred, a winner and Group 3-placed as a juvenile, has had her wings spread since that domestic Classic success in the spring, finishing a fine fourth behind Alcohol Free in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot under David Egan, before finding fellow Classic heroine Mother Earth and co too hot to handle in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville.
Great to see German 1,000 Guineas winner Novemba lining up for the Coronation Stakes @Ascot for owner/breeder Gestüt Brümmerhof & trainer Peter Schiergen. She’s by Gleneagles @coolmorestud ex Listed winner Nevada who is a half-sister to Group winner and German 2,000 2nd Nordico. pic.twitter.com/TzKewrfYrK— Weatherbys Limited (@weatherbysltd) June 18, 2021
Partnered again by Germany’s 2019 champion jockey Bauryzhan Murzabayev - Schiergen’s number one - in the Prix du Moulin this month, Novemba fluffed the start at Longchamp and did well to finish as close as she did in fifth behind Baaeed having been rushed up to lead.
No jockey would say this themselves, but having finished a close second in a Group 3 and won the German Guineas on the only two occasions she has ridden Novemba, Vogt must be under strong consideration to regain the ride wherever the filly runs next.
As well as being a confirmed fan of Novemba’s sire, Coolmore’s young gun Gleneagles, Vogt admires plenty of stallions closer to home too. Soldier Hollow, Gestut Auenquelle’s veteran son of In The Wings, is a household name here, siring Dschingis Secret, Weltstar and Ivanhowe to name but three top-class performers, and Vogt enthusiastically describes the versatility and compliance of his progeny.
“I love Soldier Hollow as a sire,” she says. “His progeny are so relaxed and they go over every distance.”
The Soldier Hollow full-sister to Deutsches Derby winner Dschingis Secret and Group 1-placed Destino had been one of the star turns at the previous day’s BBAG Yearling Sale, Germany’s flagship auction, though failed to sell when the bidding stalled at €700,000.
“I was at the sale,” says Vogt, “but I was speaking to so many people, which made it tricky to see all of it. I do love the breeding side of the sport, it’s really interesting, especially when you see the mother and the father and the whole page!”
There is no escaping Vogt’s passion and zest for horses and, while race-riding has currently captured her heart, her response to being asked if she would ever work in bloodstock is quick and unequivocal.
“Yes,” she exclaims. “I’d love to breed horses. I love learning about the families.”
Vogt can certainly be described as someone with one eye on the future. Asked which race she would most like to win, the response is again definitive and instant. It is as though she has had these dreams and ambitions from when she started riding and has set her cap at achieving them as soon as she can.
“The Arc,” she says. “I always watched it when I was growing up and I’d love to win it one day.
“Enable was my favourite horse too, she had a lovely head and eyes and always tried her best. She looked like a colt; for me, she’s the best. I really hoped she’d win the Arc for the third time last year but the ground was too slow for her.”
Fillies getting the better of colts has increasingly become a two-legged concept as well. Vogt is part of a generation of female riders worldwide who are consistently showing owners, trainers and punters that not only should there be no worries about putting them up but that they are often a better bet than a male counterpart.
From east to west, Lisa Allpress, Jamie Kah, rider-turned-trainer Michelle Payne, Mickaelle Michel, Hollie Doyle, Hayley Turner, Nicola Currie, Chantal Sutherland, Emma-Jayne Wilson, Sophie Doyle and Jessica Pyfer are, along with Vogt, just the tip of a growing iceberg.
“Hollie’s the best!” exclaims Vogt. “But there are very good female riders all around the world, there’s one in Australia who has ridden more than 1,000 winners [Kah] and she is really strong at the finish.”
And the Oscar for best male?
“Frankie, for me, is the best,” answers Vogt “He has extraordinary balance on the horse and is always with the horse.”
While there may be a way to go, and then some, when it comes to emulating Dettori, Vogt has her own piece of racing history already safely tucked away and should continue to push her own envelope while advancing the growing reputation of female riders.
She has not yet graced a racecourse in Britain or Ireland, but her name has been mentioned in Shergar Cup circles and with ticking boxes becoming something of a habit, don't be surprised to see her sooner rather than later.