Philippe Paquet is a former jockey from France, who in 1974 was the winner of the Prix du Jockey Club on Caracolero, and the Gran Premio d'Italia on Ribecourt. In 1976, he also won the Irish Derby on Malacate, and the Irish Oaks on Lagunette.
He was the stable jockey of famous French trainer François Boutin for nine years. He joined Francois Boutin straight from school as a 14yr-old apprentice in 1966, via the local employment exchange [ref. ‘The Irish Derby’ by Guy Williams & Francis Hyland] He was on board Nonoalco when the colt made a winning debut in the Prix Yacowlef at Deauville in 1973, breaking the course record in the process [ref. Timeform Annuals of each season] having been made stable jockey to Boutin that season, although Piggott and Saint-Martin were still used when available. In 1980, he finished the 2,000 Guineas in first place on the Boutin-trained Nureyev, but was later disqualified for impeding the progress of Posse, ridden by Pat Eddery.
In 1977, when his 17 Group winners included Trepan, Super Concorde and Malacate, Paquet won the Cravache d’Or (Golden Whip) as French Champion Jockey, which he won again in 1979, the year in which he also won the Champion Stakes on Northern Baby, on whom he’d finished third in The Derby at Epsom. [ref. Courses Et Elevage]
At the end of 1981 he went to Hong Kong and became the stable jockey of the legendary Australian trainer, the late George Moore, his father-in-law at the time. On January 22, 1984, he won the Hong Kong Derby on Baby Tiger, adding yet another prestigious trophy under his belt.
Sadly, his career came to an abrupt end while training on Silver Star during a morning training session just weeks later on February 13, 1984. He was thrown onto the turf by his mount and sustained a serious skull fracture as a result. He remained in a coma for more than three months, before finally regaining consciousness. Initially left partially paralysed, he spent time at a rehabilitation centre in Queensland before returning to France. Against all odds and predictions by medical staff he gradually regained mobility, speech and memory. [ref. The Sporting Life]
On an even more tragic note, Englishman Brian Taylor would die from the injuries suffered in a similar fall on the same horse Silver Star on December 8 that same year.
Paquet, once paralysed due to the injuries, would make a remarkable recovery, and even made a return to horseback, although for leisure only. Working as an assistant trainer to Francois Boutin, he later took out a training licence in his own right and enjoyed success with L’Avocat in 2004, 2005 and 2006, Outlay, Water Dragon, Zarika, Hunaudieres and Zigarolo being among his other winners. [ref. Paris-Turf; Zeturf] In 2005 Jim McGrath reported in the Daily Telegraph how one morning, having waited for his work rider to appear, in frustration he decided to ride work himself. “After I had done one circuit I went to pull my horse up, but I found I couldn’t. After another circuit, I aimed him at a big hedge. The next thing I remember was lying on the ground, and somebody standing over me, telling me my horse was on the other side of the hedge, lying dead. Thank God, I was able to get up, and my horse was just winded,” Paquet told McGrath in the Telegraph.