Moment Of The Month: December 2021
15 January 2022
In 2021 Eric Raffin turned forty years-of-age. This year his career also reached new heights becoming the highest winning trotting driver/rider in one season. We look back at the career so far of this French mounted trotting jockey and harness trotting driver and review this achievement and his milestones to date.
Eric Raffin was born in Challans on the 24th November 1981. He initially distinguished himself in mounted company, winning the Golden Stirrup five times (2006, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2016) firmly placing him as a leading jockey in the ranks of French trotting while his standout mounted successes included the G1 Prix de Cornulier (2700m) in 2003 with Joyau d'Amour, then in 2014 and 2015 with Roxane Griff.
This past year, he moved to another level with the outstanding achievement of breaking the title he jointly shared previously with Jean-Michel Bazire of 345 winners (Bazire in 2006, Raffin 2019) in a calendar year.
Beating this tally by one there were 176 victories at the Paris tracks of Vincennes and Enghien, with 170 in the provinces. He competed in 1,808 races, for a staggering 313 different trainers.
Having equalled the record earlier in the programme at Vincennes on the 3rd December, his success when partnering with Gys in the Class E driven Prix de Compiegne at Vincennes ensured the record was broken and completed a memorable double on the card.
For his record-breaking drive, Gys was held up in last throughout and the pair began to make progress widest of all with 500m to go. Gys showed a smart turn of foot midway through the back straight and the leading driver never looked like being denied once drawing alongside the long-time leader, and eventual fourth, Gold D’ecroville.
The appointment of Eric Raffin as partner for Face Time Bourbon was a crucial turning point, and on the 6th March in 2021 the pair combined for success in the G1 Prix de Sélection.
Further calendar highlights this year included success in the: G2 Prix de Croix (2850m), G1 Prix de France (2100m), G1 Prix de Sélection (2200m), G2 Prix Jacques Andrieu (2850m), G2 Prix Louis Forcinal (2700m), G3 Prix Cornelia (2850m) and the G1 Prix René-Ballière (2100m).
The 2021 year also marked a third consecutive Sulky d'Or, beating fellow drivers Matthieu Abrivard and Yoann Lebourgeois. He also finished first in the driver’s classification of the Grand National du Trot, winning two of the twelve stages at Le Croisé-Laroche and Argentan with Fire Cracker.
Having equalled the record back in 2019 it seemed only a matter of time before Eric Raffin achieved this milestone. At time of writing, he has an astonishing 4102 career successes with 2877 coming in the sulky and 1225 in the saddle. After celebrating this landmark success, Raffin remarked that the work and effort has paid dividends but does not intend to chase the record again with the day-to-day pressure and travel involved. It is safe to say 2021 was a good year for Eric Raffin and he will continue to add to an already full trophy cabinet.
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