Now the proud Yorkshireman is starting the new year as France’s two-time jump jockey champion, having regained the legendary Cravache d’Or which he won for the first time in 2016.
What follows is a remarkable 2021, in which Reveley recovered from a slow start – France’s title race will be determined over the calendar year – and posted 102 winners.
Reveley joins legends like Jacques Ricou and David Cottin in a select group of drivers to record a century.
In contrast, Harry Skelton – Britain’s champion jockey – raised £ 1.9m from 152 wins in his 2020-21 title campaign.
It’s even more satisfying for Reveley, whose late grandmother Mary and father Keith both trained near Saltburn after they moved to Chantilly, where he’ll get into training over time.
“That means a lot – I didn’t want to be seen as a one-hit wonder. My goal was to get another one (Cravache d’Or) “, Said the 32-year-old The Yorkshire Post.
“My first success was Guillaume Macaire (multiple champion trainer) who gave me most of my winners – he could have made anyone a champion. I ended up with 84 winners and had a good run, but broke my foot in early November and missed the last few months of the season.
“This year I rode as a freelancer and my agent, Giovanni Laplace, was brilliant and put me in a lot of good coaches.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I had a realistic chance because I didn’t have a big stable behind me and it would take a lot of work. In the second half of the year I was in Chantilly and worked with a lot more different coaches. “
Dominating the Christmas Eve meeting in Pau, Reveley is very different today from the shy student who gave up French after three years in secondary school because he thought he wouldn’t need the language.
But his life – and career – changed when Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards suggested that he spend his summer months riding to Macaire to gain experience and develop his horsemanship.
Expecting no rides, Reveley practiced his trade in Yorkshire for several years – his contemporary Brian Hughes is well on his way to claiming a second title – while his forays into France grew longer each year.
Realizing that it would be difficult for him to reach the top in this country, he moved to France in 2016 after it had become clear the previous year that the Cravache d’Or was within reach. “I had a very good year in 2015 and only finished fourth for half a season,” he said.
Reveley won the Grand Steeplechase De Paris – France’s most prestigious competition – three years in a row from 2016 to 2018, and Reveley’s calm driving style suits a country where the pace of races is less hectic.
As a successful childhood rider, the range of obstacles – and cross-country competitions – also shows the many strengths of the father of two, who says that the 100 winner benchmark in France “is like riding 300 winners on the “Is flat” because of the balance of the schedule.
Now he is determined to defend his title in 2022 after driving for 78 different coaches last year. “More of it,” he said. “Up until March 1st last year, I had only ridden two winners. Start the year a little better, hold up the winners, stay tuned and win the title again. It would also be nice to find a real superstar horse and win another Grade One. “
He also has the respect of his fellow passengers. “I am considered one of the senior jockeys and considered a French senior jockey,” said Reveley, recognizing the support of his wife Alexia and parents Keith and Fiona, who now work for C&C Horse, on Transport.
“The jockeys know I’m English, but they don’t classify me as an English jockey. I would like to think that the younger drivers look up to me as someone to adapt to. I now belong to the furniture over here. “
This also explains why Reveley chose not to return to the UK to end his career in the saddle.
Now he’s preparing to become the third generation of Reveleys to train racehorses after buying a 46-stables farm in Chantilly. “I can’t really change now, I’ll see my riding days over here and then I’ll settle down as a trainer,” he added. “There’s no rush, but it’s in the pipeline. In jump races (with injuries) you never know, but that’s the plan for the future. “
In the meantime, the race for a third is on Cravache d’Or – and hopefully the respect of all those in British racing who still fully appreciate and fully appreciate James Reveley’s status as Champion Jockey in France.