Meet the 'unwanted' jockey, once banned for using Twitter who made more money than any Premier League footballer in 2020

WHEN Christophe Lemaire left France as an 'unwanted' jockey in 2014, it's fair to say he probably had no idea he would turn into a record-breaking money machine.

Out of favour and with trainers 'losing interest' in him, Lemaire decided to chance it all on a trip to Japan.



Fast forward six years and the 'Iceman' – as he is known by Japanese fans won a jaw-dropping £30million in 2020.

Through the pandemic, the global recession and mass uncertainty, Lemaire has managed to make more money than any top flight footballer this year.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne is believed to be the Prem's highest-paid star on £385,000 a week – equivalent to a £20m salary.

The riches on offer for jockeys in Japan trump anything else in the racing world.

And Lemaire doesn't mind flashing some of his cash, such as when he showed his Instagram followers his £3,800 Favre-Leuba watch.

Lemaire had ridden a whopping 193 runners in 2020 – 30 more than second-placed Yuga Kawada.

But crucially, Lemaire performs his best in the big races with the biggest horses.

He was reduced to tears when saddling Almond Eye – who retired as the richest Japanese racehorse ever – to victory in the Japan Cup.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B–2Hq7Dlr5/

A post shared by Christophe Lemaire (@christophelemaire_officiel)

https://www.instagram.com/p/B727131gAQw/

A post shared by Christophe Lemaire (@christophelemaire_officiel)

It was not always like this though.

Lemaire told thoroughbredracing.com how he had 'doubts' in his ability after being cast aside in his homeland.

And then came the bizarre 30-day ban for using Twitter in 2015.

Japan Racing Association chiefs came down hard on Lemaire for using the social media network during a meet.

Lemaire was already a Melbourne Cup winner by this point and asserting himself on the world stage.

But, just about to make his debut as a fully-licenced jockey and on the return from three months out after breaking his leg, stewards noticed the rules breach.

It was not even anything major.

Lemaire had merely retweeted an acquaintance's post.

But JRA rules ban jockeys from contacting anyone until after their final race of a meet.

Riders have no right to appeal and the month-long ban remained in place.

Of course, while Lemaire makes a fortune for the owners of the horses he rides, he knows full well being a jockey is a precarious job.

Riders are always just one race away from that next fall that could put them out for months or even end their career.

Still, while he is healthy the 42-year-old has earned massive sums of money year after year.

In 2017 and 2018 he broke the £31m barrier in win and place money.

Last year was relatively paltry by comparison with a mere £25.6m.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CG3ZMKYD6bK/

A post shared by Christophe Lemaire (@christophelemaire_officiel)

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9QZYsegsIZ/

A post shared by Christophe Lemaire (@christophelemaire_officiel)

https://www.instagram.com/p/B86YPbAgQmy/

A post shared by Christophe Lemaire (@christophelemaire_officiel)

Of course, Lemaire does not get to keep all that money for himself.

He will have an agreement with trainers and owners about the portion of the winnings he gets to keep.

These are always private and means a jockey's 'winnings' are counted only from what he makes on the track, while their personal wealth will include what they gets paid in their retainer plus any sponsorship deals.

Despite his wealth, Lemaire has some way to go to catch the richest jockey in the world.

His rival Yutaka Take has that crown, having won an estimated £665m throughout his legendary career.

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