Charlotte Prichard hit the jackpot as a summer jaunt changed her life going from working as a groom for a top trainer to become a champion jockey
Have you heard the story about the jockey who took a holiday job and ended up being champion jockey? That’s what happened to Charlotte Prichard.
The 24-year-old from Pontypridd was working for Welsh National-winning trainer Evan Williams, unable to secure a ride as an amateur, when she decided to spend the summer working as a groom for top trainer Guillaume Macaire at his base in south-west France — as her brother had done.
It’s a decision that changed her life.
Last year Prichard rode 47 winners from 190 rides to secure the equivalent of the conditional jockeys’ title across the Channel. She was top female jump jockey in France and fifth in the full jockey championship. Wins included the equivalent of the conditional jockeys’ race at the Cheltenham Festival at Paris track Auteuil.
Prichard, who rode her first point-to-point winner as a 16-year-old on a horse trained by her father Ian, said: ‘The first time I came over I went back to Wales but the second time I stayed.
‘In France there are different rules. You can only work in a yard as an amateur jockey for two years. You have to turn professional then or find a different line of work. If I wanted to keep riding I had to turn pro. Guillaume wasn’t all for it to start with but I had no choice and things took off.’
Charlotte Prichard (not pictured) has progressed from a summer-job to a champion jockey
That was October 2019. Having won over Macaire, Prichard has also secured regular support of another leading French jumps trainer, David Cottin. It is the equivalent of a British-based conditional being supported by Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson.
The link with Chantilly-based Cottin was another reward for Prichard’s initiative. She said: ‘I’d never seen Chantilly and I was driving home for a week’s holiday. I had the ferry booked in the afternoon so I asked to go in for the morning. I rode out a few lots and David rang me a few weeks later to ride a filly which needed a claiming jockey and she won.
‘Normally if you ride for a top-10 trainer you think yourself lucky. I ride for two of the top three. You can’t really go wrong.’
In France, female jockeys receive a 2kg allowance from their male counterparts. Prichard admits that played a part.
She sees her future in France. She is sidelined after fracturing a hand in a fall last week but admits she sometimes has to pinch herself how things have turned out.
‘Coming over here for a bit of fun has led to a lot of fun,’ she said.