When French jockey Maxime Tissier continued his winning ways at Fakenham on New Year’s Day it left a small group of racing reporters in the press box recalling its ‘O’ and ‘A’ level French!
I had managed to have a chat with 27-year-old Maxime when he won on the Lucy Wadham trained Banjo Girl in only his second ride in England, at the course’s pre-Christmas meeting on Tuesday, December 19.
“I have been in the country for 16 months and I am learning the business and the language,” said Maxime, who managed 14 victories in France before joining Mrs Wadham in Newmarket.
Clearly Maxime is learning the business for on New Year’s Day he teamed up with grey gelding Artifice Sivola to land the feature race on the six-race card, the North Norfolk Handicap Hurdle.
Again, as with his ride on Banjo Girl, Tissier set off up with the pace and never saw another rival, this time Artifice Sivola pulling off a superb victory to win the contest he won exactly 12 months earlier.
Since winning on January 1, 2017, Artifice Sivola has contested five chases, finishing second three times but in his last chase, suffering a fall at Fakenham.
“That win should boost his confidence and I think we will go back to chasing with him, possibly in the Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday, January 13,” said a delighted winning trainer.
Last year’s Classic Chase was won by the Lucinda Russell trained and Derek Fox ridden One For Arthur who, of course, went on to win the Grand National over Aintree’s famous fences in April.
“One or two wanted to take me on early but my horse was very good,” said Tissier, as I walked back with him to the weighing room.
I joked he might want to think about moving to Fakenham, clearly surroundings that were proving very successful for him.
“Bonne Annee,” he replied with a broad smile … and even my ‘rusty’ French enabled me to return Happy New Year greetings to a likeable and clearly talented visitor.
Words by Terry Redhead