Dylan Salmon and the New Tradition In France - Young Presidents!
12 May 2022
Five-years-ago, France elected its youngest President of the Republic with Emmanuel Macron. In 2022, jockey Dylan Salmon won at the age of 21, just one day after a big fall, one of the most perilous steeplechases at Auteuil, the G3 Prix du Président de la République. With some suspense, a hero emerged, and everything played out for a fairytale scenario. Meet this new young racing actor.
“I am living a dream. This is my first victory at Auteuil and I had never jumped the rail ditch and fence before. Winning a Group 3 is magical. Passing this fence was especially great with this very good jumper. I haven't slept a night since I found out I was riding in this race”.
These are the words of Dylan Salmon, his eyes full of stars after his success in the Prix du President de la Republique. In the saddle on Road Mix Tavel, a 7-year-old mare trained by Daniela Mele, he overcame the pain of a nasty fall the day before and the perilous obstacles of this handicap steeplechase that the French consider their Grand National. Daniela Mele completely embraced the jockey into the success of Road Mix Tavel:
“He is a young jockey, but he listened to me well about the mare and the race. Road Mix Tavel is a good jumper, you need a jockey who doesn't move a toe with her”.
Dylan Salmon is not from a traditional racing family but his mother was a horse racing enthusiast. His first official race dates back to only 2020, when he won just the one race. In 2021, he totalled 17 winners and his 2022 score is already at 13.
The height of Dylan Salmon is reminiscent of flat jockey Vincent Cheminaud, super champion of the obstacles before switching to the flat.
“I chose the obstacle discipline, confirms Dylan Salmon. I have the weight to race on the flat, I race on the flat sometimes, but I feel better over hurdles and in a chase”.
Three weeks after his success in the big race, it is back at Auteuil, the place of his exploits, that "Mr. President" answers our questions.
“I have barely come down from my cloud. Right after the race, and the more the days passed, the more I realized what had happened to me. I did not expect it despite the support of my family and friends. The jockey Baptiste Le Clerc accompanied me to walk the racecourse. He is there for me and gives me a lot of advice. We watch our races, we point out our mistakes”.
This major success still seemed out of reach for him not so long ago:
“I remember the first time I came here (to Auteuil) for my former bosses Etienne and Grégoire Leenders and I said to myself “if I race here, it would already be a dream” and then I started to race and I said to myself that a victory was possible, but from there to dream of a group win”...
Apprenticed today for trainer Julien Mérienne with whom he shares the habit of being 15 minutes late in the morning, Dylan Salmon had been warmly congratulated by his mentor following his success. Responding to questions from French Racing TV Equidia, the trainer said:
“As soon as he started, I just said to myself, there’s something about this kid. He is cold-blooded, he manages his horses well. It is better in the afternoon than in the morning (laughs)”.
This first time around the course facing the “big ones” at Auteuil showed that he indeed had guts and confidence.
“It was my first time jumping the rail ditch. When I’ve walked the course, it was really very impressive but horseback, between the adrenaline and the confidence I had in my horse, it was going very smoothly. It was the first time I rode Road Mix Tavel but I know Madame Mele who gave me very specific orders. I hadn’t any doubt before the race. Suddenly, arriving at the rail ditch, I realised this was “it” for two seconds and then I quickly refocused to count the strides. When you jump it, you can feel the great effort of the horses, more than anywhere else on the course. The horses feel it because when you get to the top of the mound, just before the ditch rail, they just straighten up and accelerate.
At the double barriers (two out), I felt I had the potential to win and after the last hurdle I knew I had won. Once past the post, I no longer wanted to stop. The return to the winning circle was magical, I had tears in my eyes. Seeing my mother sobbing was overwhelming, it was really a beautiful moment”.
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