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French hoop searching for success in Queensland

ab54d377-05a9-4c35-ac63-3ba39c60f2fd.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

From riding at tracks in Paris and Marseille to the bush in Queensland at Roma and Goondiwindi.

French hoop Damien Boutet is certainly a long way from home as he chases his riding ambitions around Australia.

The 23-year-old has experience riding across France and in England and this weekend goes in search of his first Australian winner at Goondiwindi.

The Gold Coast-based Boutet has worked for Aquis Park-based trainer Michael Costa and the Edmonds team since he arrived in Queensland last year, aiming to build his reputation as a jockey and pick up as many rides as possible.

“I came to Australia because the horse industry is pretty good here and I wanted to see what was going on here,” Boutet said with a thick French accent as he learns English.

“I am happy to be here.

“It is pretty hard to pick up rides in France during the winter months as all the jockeys are there, it is a busy time from December to March – all the big jockeys are there.”

Boutet’s journey to Australia started with an email with his credentials to premier trainer Chris Waller in 2019, reaching out to the Hall of Famer to work for his stable – a proposal which was granted.

He spent around six months with the champion Sydney trainer in 2019, a really nice experience Boutet says, as he was able to ride plenty of Waller’s gun horses at track work.

From Sydney, the up-and-coming Frenchman eventually ended up on the Gold Coast in the middle of 2020, working for Costa around his stable before applying for his licence to ride in races in Australia.

Boutet went through his apprenticeship process back home in France, riding for over three years in around 250 races, he estimates, for 14 winners.

Damien Boutet Next Racing

12f16980-2820-4313-9bbd-773b75da5402.jpgA broken leg, which put him on the sidelines for six month, halted his career momentum back home in France.

He rode in plenty of trials for the Costa barn and has recently made the move to the Edmonds’, with an aim of getting more race rides.

“I did it all myself, the paperwork and everything, which was hard for me because my English is not perfect, but I am getting better and improving,” Boutet said.

Boutet rode for Wandoan’s Will Loudon last weekend at Roma and the bush trainer has opted to keep the youngster on again this week at Goondiwindi, booking him for two more rides.

Loudon described Boutet as an “underrated rider” so far and rates the way he goes about it.

The aspirational hoop understands he will need to travel far and wide for opportunities to ride in the Sunshine State.

“I am starting to go to country places to ride, I have been getting rides almost every weekend,” Boutet said.

“I have been travelling a lot to get the rides on the weekend but I am happy with that, hopefully I can improve with those experiences and get more winners.

“I need to get some winners in the future.”

Boutet has completed almost 20 race rides this year since taking out his licence and has three more booked for Saturday at Gunsynd Park to try and crack his first triumph in Australia.

“I rode Marmaris last Saturday and he was a bit unfit, I think he will be better this week with more distance,” he said.

“The other one, Bluey's Ready, we have drawn barrier two so I think that will be a good chance.

“I will ride a winner soon, I reckon.”

With Boutet’s VISA to end at the end of September, he is working on extending it for another 12 months to continue his “beautiful experience” in Australia.