Ad Mickaëlle Michele hopes to gain as much experience during her time in Australia.

Globetrotting jockey Mickaëlle Michel to experience Flemington this Saturday

12 January 2024 Written by Celia Purdey

French jockey Mickaëlle Michel has arrived in Australia and will fulfil a childhood dream of riding in a race at Flemington, home to the world-famous Lexus Melbourne Cup.

The 28-year-old’s journey into racing began with her childhood passion for horses leading into a life in the equestrian world. At the age of 14, Michel attended a nearby jockey school, igniting a deep love for the sport and kickstarting her career has a jockey.

Michel’s ventures in racing have taken her from her native France – where she won a total of 72 races and earned the prestigious 2018 leading apprentice jockey award – to diverse locations such as Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and the United States.

Guided by her French agent and husband, former jockey Frederic Spanu, Michel recognised the importance of travelling to learn and experience different horse racing tactics from around the world. Each country presented its unique challenges and approaches to horse racing, enriching Michel’s knowledge and skills in the process.

Now, Michel is in Australia to gain even more experience, a place that was always on her bucket list.

“Trainer Brent Stanley asked me for a few years to come here but it wasn’t the right time for me in my career to do it. Now I feel it's a good time. Also, female jockeys are doing very well here… and I just want to enjoy it.” Michel said.

She will partner the Brent Stanley-trained Serenaur at Flemington on Saturday.

The skilled jockey will use all her experience to adapt to racing here, which is slightly different to what she is used to, but a challenge she is looking forward to.

“I watch the Melbourne Cup every year and a few big races, but I have to learn a lot. I know they run with many horses per race. Races are fast and on the turf so I will try to get all my experience together to do my best here and make the trainer and owner happy.”

As for her favourite Melbourne Cup winner?

“I would say Michelle Payne because of course she did something like nobody did before … She’s an example to follow and it was such a great ride.”

Having secured with a six-month visa, Michel hopes to gain as much experience during her time in Australia.

“It’s a new experience for me, a new adventure and I hope to become a better jockey after that. That’s why I love to travel, to become a real international jockey.”

As well as riding in Australia, there is one other bucket list item she wants to tick off; experiencing the crowd in person.

“The crowd during Melbourne Cup Day looks amazing and I really want to see that by myself because on the video it looks crazy already, but I’m sure if I’m here and I can enjoy it would be so different and so much better. It's one of the reputations of the Australian races, the crowd and people love it so much.”