No saddle, no problem: French rider survives malfunction to claim incredible win
Jockey Elaura Cieslik showed off all her skill in the saddle at Salon de Provence on Monday when managing to get First Wood home in front – despite not having a saddle for the closing stages of the race.
The rider was starting to make a challenge on the nose-banded First Wood in the home straight, but events took a dramatic twist when the saddle slipped, leaving Cieslik to briefly ride side-saddle.
Impressively, and incredibly, Cieslik quickly regained her balance, and despite the saddle now slipping all the way round to underneath First Wood's stomach, she kept driving the four-year-old home.
Steering was, understandably, limited, but despite hanging over to the far rail, Cieslik and Far Wood managed to claim an improbable victory for trainer Christophe Escuder.
Reflecting on her rodeo clown-style win, Cieslik said: "The saddle didn't feel that secure when we jumped out the stalls but it was fine until halfway round the turn, when it slipped to the right side.
"I tried to get it back but then it went round to the left and, by the time we got into the straight, it was completely under his stomach.
"I said to myself, 'I'm going to fall off', but though I ended up with both legs on one side briefly, I managed to right myself. I felt secure and my horse was still full of running and we ended up winning."
She added: "I didn't have time to think about it. One minute I thought I'd fall, the next we were balanced and off again."
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