Jean-Claude Rouget, the trainer who has put his mark on the Prix de Diane

11/06/2019


French trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, who is based in Pau and Deauville, has a total of 4 wins in the Prix de Diane and he has done the Jockey Club – Diane double twice! Having won the QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club 2019, he will once again be in the paddock for the Prix de Diane Longines on the 16th June at Chantilly.
 
In 2019, Jean-Claude Rouget will once again be multi-handed in the Prix de Diane Longines. It is a very difficult feat to win this race… Nonetheless, he has won four of the last 10 editions! Having won the QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club 2019 - thanks to Sottsass – he will now attempt his third Diane-Jockey Club double. A rare feat for French racing.
 
JEAN CLAUDE ROUGET’S PREVIOUS RUNNERS IN THE PRIX DE DIANE (winners in bold)
 
Year          Filly (finishing position)
2017         Onthemoonagain (Faller)
2016         La Cressonnière (1st), Zghorta Dance (7th) et Jemayel (9th)
2015         Mojo Risin (12th) et Stay The Night (14th)
2014         Avenir Certain (1st)
2013         Alterite (6th)
2012         Valyra (1st)
2010         Zagora (5th)
2009         Stacelita (1st) et Tamazirte (2nd)
2008         Satan’s Circus (5th)
2007         Coquerelle (Unplaced)
2006         Germance (2nd), Mauralakana (6th), Danzon (Unplaced) et Keladora (Unplaced)
2004         Ask For The Moon (7th)
2001         Zghorta (8th)
1999         Star of Akkar (2nd)
 
 
Normandy origins
 
Jean-Claude Rouget was born in 1953 in Normandy. His father Claude ran the prestigious Haras de Saint-Pair du Mont. At the end of the 1960’s, Claude Rouget left the stud and set up as a trainer in Senonnes. He was one of the leading trainers in the west of France.
 
After a brilliant career in athletics, a middle-distance specialist, Jean-Claude Rouget set up as a trainer at Pau, in the South-West of France in 1978… he was only 25 years old. Initially, he mostly trained jumps horses, and he quickly began to build up a solid reputation in the South-West, where his horses won all the local big races.
 
In 1988, Jean-Claude Rouget also won the two biggest flat races in the South-West: the Derby du Languedoc and the Derby du Midi. This period marked a turn in his career, and his stable went progressively from jumps horses to the flat.  
 
Soon enough, the South-West was not enough. French racing at this time was dominated by the ‘Parisian’ trainers from Chantilly and Maisons-Laffitte. Jean-Claude Rouget, the « provincial » boldly presented his first runner in a Group race (the highest level) in Paris in 1989: Cut My Heart in the Prix Robert Papin (Gr2). This horse was coming off a win at Évry. He could only finish 8th, but the appetite was there.
 
The 1990s. In 1991, Flanagan Cocktail gave him his first Group win on the flat, the Prix André Baboin (Gr3). He was on his way to the top: 180 wins in 1993, beating the record held by the greatest French trainer of the 20th century, François Mathet, a record he had held for two decades. He also became the first provincial trainer to top the leading trainer table in France on number of wins.  
 
In 1994, he beat his own record with 242 wins. This was a qualitative success: he also won his first Group 1 (the highest level of race) with Millkom in the Prix Jean Prat. Millkom also won, at the same level, the Grand Prix de Paris.
 
1999: 1st runner in the Prix de Diane
 
In 1999, Jean-Claude Rouget fielded his first runner in the Prix de Diane, and for a first attempt, it was a class one with Star of Akkar finishing second at Chantilly.
 
2009: 1st win in the Prix de Diane.
 
From 1999 to 2018, the trainer saddled 20 runners in the biggest race for 3-year-old fillies in France.
He has won the race four times: Stacelita (2009), Valyra (2012), Avenir Certain (2014) and La Cressonnière (2016). It is a record in the last ten years.
He has also been second three times: in 1999 with Star of Akkar, in 2006 with Germance… and in 2009 with Tamazirte – who was beaten by his other runner, Stacelita! A rarely seen double… only two trainers have ever achieved such a thing.
 
The 2000s and after.
 
The « fight » for the province in regard to the trainer rankings has been led by Jean-Claude Rouget. However, in 1990, he took on the jockeys – and tried to win the Cravache d’Or (leading French jockey) for one of his riders. He missed out with Jean-René Dubosc… However, in 2004, Ioritz Mendizabal, first jockey to Jean-Claude Rouget, touched the Grail: he became the first province-based jockey to win the Cravache d’Or. And the cherry on the cake, he beat the record for number of wins in one year (220).
 
Success followed success. In the 2000s, the quality of the horses in his stable kept improving: the pedigree, the type, the ability… and so the wins kept coming.
 
In 2007, for the first time, Jean-Claude Rouget received horses from His Highness the Aga Khan, a legendary owner in racing history.  
 
2009: 1st Jockey Club – Prix de Diane double
 
The year 2009 will remain one of his greatest. The victory of Elusive Wave in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, of Le Havre in the Prix du Jockey Club, and the double of Stacelita and Tamazirte in the Prix de Diane Longines placed him at the top of the trainers leaderboard by prizemoney, which made him Champion trainer (rather than by number of wins). No other provincial trainer had ever achieved this.
 
In 2010, he reached 5,000 wins.
 
2016, the year of the European Champion Almanzor
 
In 2016, his protégé Almanzor (Prix du Jockey Club, Irish Champion Stakes & Champion Stakes) was crowned as Champion European 3-Year-Old. Rare are the French trainers to have won this title… Clearly, another « first » for the province!
 
Following on from Jean-Claude Rouget, a number of trainers, who are based outside of the Paris region, have broken through the ceiling that separates Paris from Province. It is a historic change with a number of high-class horses now based in the countryside – a consequence of which is the number of Group races won by notable the South-West trainers.  
 
Nearly 170 horses in training in Deauville and Pau
 
In 2019, Jean-Claude Rouget trains a total of 169 horses. He set up a second training base at Deauville (73 horses), alongside his original base at Pau (96 horses), in order to be closer to Paris where the majority of the big races are held.