Jean de Mieulle gets his career underway


Jean de Mieulle gets his career underway

 Very much to the racing manor born, Jean de Mieulle is bedding-in in at a spanking new facility. Supervising a team of around 20 horses, this young trainer aspires to success with his purebreds, whether they be English thoroughbreds or PA horses.

The nephew of Alban de Mieulle and the son of a director of the Anjou-Maine federation, Roger, Jean de Mieulle was to the racing manor born. Passionate about the sport, he spent a considerable time of his youth at many of the racecourses which adorn the west of France. So he very quickly made up his mind as regards embarking on a career in the sector. After initially cutting his teeth in the show jumping world, Jean de Mieulle decided to up the ante by obtaining his gentleman rider’s licence. After riding in around 100 amateur races, he was to prove successful in ten races in different countries, while, at the same time, continuing his business management studies. He said: "To tell the truth, I could never see myself doing anything else. Being a gentleman rider provided for an excellent opportunity. I had a great appetite for race riding and, as an amateur, doing the rounds of the various trainers was obligatory and conditional to obtaining the maximum number of rides."

Travel broadens youthful minds. After obtaining his business management diploma and acquiring a taste for travel, the student from Angers again packed his bags so as to learn his trade with Christophe Clément in the US, before jetting-off to Australia where he joined the James Cummings stable in Sydney. After the Australian experience, the young man then headed to San Diego, not for surfing but for ‘turf’ purposes after hooking up with trainer Chris Hartmann at Del Mar. He added: "Before hooking up with my uncle Alban, the deal was that I should first become fluent in English, in addition to having a number of foreign ‘learning’ experiences under my belt."

The road to Qatar! After all these rewarding experiences, Jean de Mieulle’s next stop off was Qatar where he worked alongside Alban de Mieulle's assistant, Éric Ventrou, for two years before becoming his number one assistant. He continued: "We spent seven months in Qatar and another five months in France at Coye-la-Forêt [editor's note: Oise region]. Honestly, I wasn't thinking of settling anywhere else but Chantilly. I was finding my feet and was very familiar with the training facilities there. However, during my final year, there was no stabling available at Chantilly. So we had to instead use the training facilities at the stud which Alban de Mieulle oversees, the Haras du Grand Courgeon at Le Lion-d'Angers (Maine-et-Loire region). It meant returning home to live at my parents’ property which was nearby. On walking through the woods which belonged to the family, I became aware of a slope whose incline really fitted the bill, and of the added potential of the wide expanses afforded by the forest, plus the trails that were already well marked out." The embryonic stages of this project were starting to emerge as things gradually took shape.

Hardly the right time to build a new facility. Jean de Mieulle started training in the spring of 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic was raging at full tilt. He said:  "It called for a sizeable investment and we just had to get started. I made numerous return trips in order to supervise the project, but my father, given his location, spent a considerable time overseeing the necessary works on site." Against the backdrop of what is the middle of a forest, the 20 or so charges of the trainer can stretch their limbs on a straight measuring 1,100m (5 1/2f), where the incline ranges from two to four percent, before joining the 1,000m (5f) round course; and this on a surface in which wood chips rather than the sand is the mainstay: in line with the specific requirements of the project’s overlord. He added: "The big advantage is that there are no after ‘effects’ and shock wave effects on this kind of surface, and so very few horses experience problems with their joints. It's all very healthy and extremely pleasant. On the other hand, it really does call for the presence of an incline in order for the training to be effective on this type of surface. We’re currently in the process of installing a grass track measuring 900m (4 1/2f), as this surface will help the younger stock when it comes to the process of getting balanced. This facility won’t be used for speed purposes. I’m also in the process of taking steps as regards adding another unit of 20 boxes."

Idyllic Anjou proves beneficial for horses. Buried in the very heart of the various forest trails, Jean de Mieulle has created his own "little Chantilly", and for this read Morannes-sur-Sarthe where the idyllic nature of the Anjou region is anything but a flight of fancy. He said: "The calm setting is a huge plus. It has all the advantages of a private training centre. As the horses which are very tense on arrival tend to calm down after a week or two. In addition to the soothing setting, I have a team ready made for this purpose. I learned my craft in a calming environment that is Alban’s de Mieulle and am striving to replicate this." The method seems to be working as the young man saddled his very first winner, San Pablo (Joshua Tree), with his very first runner, and this at a track not that far away, namely Le Lion-d’Angers on May 21st, 2020. "This first win opened a lot of doors for me via people who were quick to place their trust in me.My very first PA runner also struck at the first time of asking." Lamet Shamel (AF Albahar), a winner at Mons on October 13th, was the particular ice breaker. "Twenty per cent of my team is made up of PA horses with the other 80 per cent comprising English thoroughbreds. I love English thoroughbreds but also have an affinity for PA horses. Alban passed the bug on to me. I’ve also been lucky enough to be pointed in the right direction concerning pedigrees thanks to him. I find the breed very endearing and more intelligent. My team is gradually falling in love with PA horses, even if they’re still something of an unknown quantity in western France."

A multitude of nearby racecourses. It’s indeed in his native western heartlands that Jean de Mieulle chose to set up shop. It must also be pointed out that the location is a strategic one, as it’s within striking distance of numerous racecourses, and readily accessible to the Parisian tracks. "The stable is situated 12 kilometres from the motorway. It’s a two and a half hour trip to Longchamp. As for the PA horses, they can reach Bordeaux in four hours. The various destinations are all readily accessible via the motorway. Furthermore, many racecourses in the west, such as Durtal, which is very close to the house, open their doors during the morning in the spring. It’s invariably a good idea to keep horses on the move with a view to breaking up their routines. This is a major step in their preparation. We use our own facilities to do a lot of interval training, I ride two or three lots every morning. I love to ride a horse when it comes to us from another stable. The vision of the morning exercise rider still burns brightly within even though I have the backup of a very capable team. My distant cousin, Olivier d'Andigné, was my first employee. He left Arnaud Chaillé-Chaillé's stable in order to pursue his flat-racing career. Four of us ride out in the mornings, and we can also count on the services of a yardman. Despite hailing from a non-horse background, he is super-willing and very professional to boot. I trust him 300 per cent."

Sa'ad shapes as a colt of the future. In his second season as a trainer, Jean de Mieulle is aiming to add a second stabling area which can accommodate 20 horses. Among his current team, he will naturally be able to count on his big hopeful Sa'ad (Tamayuz), the winner of a 2-year-old maiden at Saint-Cloud. "He has strengthened up considerably during the winter. He is magnificent. Going into his debut over 1,600m (1m) at Deauville in the summer, he had only previously worked once on grass, and was up against smart opposition. Despite this, he still managed to finish an encouraging sixth over a trip that was on the sharp side. Later, when stepped up to 2.000m (10f), and on a surface that was on the heavy side, he showed an impressive turn of foot. I’m lucky to have owners who have told me that it’s full steam ahead as regards entering horses for the classics. So he has been entered in the Grand Prix de Paris and in the Prix du Jockey Club (Grs1). To tell the truth, I don't know how good he is because none of my other horses can lay up with him in the mornings. It was Grégory Vayre that decided to send Sa'ad to me. The latter used the medium of social media to contact me. Very active in this domain, I’m very hands on when it comes to communications. It's a veritable must for a stable. At Alban's, I learned how to film and edit videos. Consequently, I’m able to impart a lot of information to my owners. At the same time, I’ve secured a deal sponsorship and hope to be reveal the identity of my backer very soon!"