PIERRE-CHARLES BOUDOT had just won the biggest race of his life.
He had beaten Frankie Dettori and Enable – an act likened to ‘kicking Bambi’ by famed trainer Andre Fabre – in the Arc de Triomphe.
The pinnacle of the Flat racing season in Europe, Boudot, already a two-time champion jockey in France, landed connections just over £2.5million.
But two years on he is banned from riding, his personal and professional reputation in tatters, after being charged with rape, an allegation he ‘categorically’ denies.
Right now, Boudot, 28, should be gearing up for a top ride in the 100th running of the richest race in Europe.
He should be looking at Tarnawa and Adayar at the head of the market and plotting out how to beat them over a mile and a half at ParisLongchamp, a track where he also won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains during a magical 2019.
Instead he is on the outside looking in after his initial three-month ban from the sport was extended by six months last August.
There was shock and awe when Waldgeist stopped Enable winning a record third straight Arc in 2019, Boudot timing his ride to perfection with a late surge.
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There was a very different kind of shock when he was placed under formal investigation for rape in May.
Boudot’s case revolves around an alleged assault on a female at a party in Cagnes-sur-Mer last February.
The complainant’s lawyer Justine Devred said: “It’s highly likely she was made to drink or administered substances to make her incapable of consent.
“She has flashes, long periods, moments when her body was no longer responding.”
Boudot’s lawyer Florence Gaudilliere said: “Pierre-Charles Boudot’s determination is greater than ever. He categorically denies the charge.”
Since then Boudot – who despite not racing since May 8 still sits fifth in the jockey standings – has been hit with three different suspensions by French racing chiefs.
First there was the emergency two-day ban once the formal charge was announced.
Next came a three-month suspension in May before a further six months was added due to the ‘seriousness’ of the allegation.
On top of that Boudot, who has won at Royal Ascot, was also made a person of interest in a witness intimidation case.
Another jockey, Pierre Bazire, was also indicted on a charge of not reporting a crime and was named as a witness in the case of intimidation.
‘SERIOUSNESS OF ALLEGATIONS’
A France Galop statement read: “Although these two jockeys remain presumed innocent, in view of the ongoing criminal proceedings to which they are still subject, the seriousness of the alleged facts and their damage to the image of the races, to the regularity and to the safety of these, as well as the organisation of the related bets, the commissioners suspended, as a precaution, for a period of six months.”
Superstars such as Dettori, William Buick, Christope Soumillon and many more will light up Paris on Sunday.
The race will crown arguably the best horse in the world.
The biggest owners who spend and make billions from top equine talent will compete for ultimate bragging rights.
And yet the case of Boudot could serve to remind us of who’s not there as much as who is.