Delphine Garcia-Dubois is an amateur jockey based out of France and recently she and a bunch of other riders came to the US to ride in some international amateur jockey races that included Parx Racing and Penn National. After she got home I emailed her some questions to answer and here is what she said to them:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
DGD: I was born in France, in Paris and I grew up there
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up and what are some of the things as a young child you did for fun?
DGD: I was very active and loved the horses from the beginning. I started riding when I was 9. I also practice classic dance. I have always loved the animals. When I was young I remember that I always wanted to catch animals, even birds (it was really difficult I promise!) or shrimps in sea water, or rabbits...
FOTH: Did you come from a big family or a small family?
DGD: Small family and not a horse family
FOTH: Where you are based out of, is horse racing a big sport?
FOTH: At what age did you become interested in horse racing and what was the first job you got at a racetrack?
DGD: I started riding race horses when I was 18. I was a student but spent all my holidays in racing yards. I also had a job as a spotter for the bloodstock sale agency named Goffs (now it is Arqana)
FOTH: What did you think of a live horse race the first time you saw one?
DGD: I hated it; thought jockeys couldn't like horses and whipping them that much!
FOTH: Now how is it you came about to start riding in these amateur races? Is there like a school you have to go to, please fill me in?
DGD: Before I was riding in eventings (show jumping) and one day I had to move to a new stable closer to my home. This new stable was in Maisons-Laffitte where there is a big training center for race horses (mostly jump horses). My new stable was in front of a race stable. The people there asked me to come and ride which I tried (and it was free riding!) and like it. Then I discovered a new world and also that I could ride in amateur races. I didn't know it before!
No there is no school where to learn. The best is riding out very often (everyday during the first year is ideal) and in a good stable with nice horses and where you know people will trust you and give you horses to work, to gallop etc. After one year of very intense ride out I thought I was ready for the races and I pass the examination to get my license as an amateur jockey.
FOTH: How many have you rode so far and tell me about your first race. What was your feeling like after you rode in the first one?
DGD: I rode about 200 races so far including 16 over steeple chase. My first race? Everything went fast!! We were 18 runners and I haven't seen much about the race. But I rode a nice race, came 6th, went straight. But pushing the horse at the end was tiring as I was not really used to!
FOTH: Have you won any of the races you have ridden in? What tracks have you rode at so far and around how many do you end up riding in, in say a year?
DGD: I have 2 wins over jumps and 16 on flat including "prestigious" races like Fegentri races in Deauville (France), in Rome (Italy), in Mauritius, in Martinique (French Caribbean island).
No winner in America yet but I finished 2nd last year at Parx and 3rd twice this year (at Parx and Penn National)
We have hundreds of tracks in France so I believe I rode on 50 different tracks all over the world. I ride around 40 races a year on 25/30 different tracks
FOTH: Would you at one point like to become an actual jockey?
DGD: No, I am too old now! I thought about it when I was 20 but it is very dangerous and I knew I couldn't do it for ever so I thought it was more reasonable to keep studying and have a good job, well paid, that would allow me to have my own race horse one day
FOTH: Was getting up on a horse natural for you? Did you learn things pretty quickly?
DGD: Yes it was quite natural for me. I have always been very attracted by the sensitive horses, those you have to be careful with, to be patient. Trainers say that I have a very good hand with horses. I may not be the strongest jockey but I do quite well with the difficult horses.
FOTH: Have you ever had any injuries as a result of your riding or working horses out at all?
DGD: A few but not very serious, a bit annoying but that's it. I had a terrible accident when I have been hit by a car. 2 years recovery... It happened in America when I was at Belmont Park. Very bad time... and the doctors said that I won't be able to ride again, never. Apparently they were wrong!
FOTH: Is being an amateur jockey all you thought it was going to be or is it not what you expected it to be?
DGD: It is greater than expected. I love it and I don't plan to stop it now. I feel better year after year and especially in term of physical condition.
FOTH: What is the riding weight of an amateur jockey?
DGD: Ideally 55/56kg. I am more 56/57kg which is ok. But I won't lie: I am very careful about my diet! I am quite tall so no choice
FOTH: So far what do you think of the US and what have you done besides riding in races and how long will you be here for?
DGD: I love America!!!!
I used to live here for one year (in Manhattan). It was my first job (marketing assistant for a packaging company). During our recent stay we went shopping in mall, we spent one day in the countryside by the pool, watching the Belmont Stakes and ending on a barbecue. Perfect day! Last year we had a day off and went to visit Philly. We don't stay long and race every day so it is not easy to do something else.
FOTH: Is there many tracks where you are based out of and is horse racing a big sport over there? Are there any other sports that you like?
DGD: Yes loads of tracks in France!! More than 250!!! Which represents half of what you have in Europe. Yes it is quite a big sport here. I love skiing, running, dancing!
FOTH: How do you stay in shape?
DGD: I exercise almost every day: 1 lot every morning before going to the office. When I am away I always go to the fitness center. I like running. And I ride in races almost every week: it helps you to stay fit!
FOTH: What are some things you like to do when you are not doing horse related things?
DGD: I like to see my friends and family. I like to go out (parties, movies, restaurants). I try to stay in touch with my friends and family because I am always away.. I like fashion too!
FOTH: I notice your riding at some tracks that have casinos in them, have you had a chance to go in any of them?
DGD: Yes we went but actually to have meal. I don't really like casinos
FOTH: What are your future plans as far as riding goes?
DGD: I don't plan to stop yet. I would like to ride over jumps again which should happen in autumn. I would like to keep traveling for riding. And I just get my first race horse. He is resting at the moment but should come back to training soon and I will tack care of him and train him. A new challenge! I would love to win under my silks
FOTH: What did you think of Parx Racing when you were there?
DGD: Loved it! Nice track. And I was very happy with my race
FOTH: Thanks for the interview any last words to wrap this up?
DGD: It is a very good idea that you are doing this female jockey website. I think it is the first time that I hear about this! We deserve it. Thank you for that!
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