Francisco Rodriguez – Spanish racing people affectionately call him ‘the diminutive’, or ‘Paquito’, because he was a child prodigy, beginning his apprenticeship four days before his 10th birthday in Madrid with trainer Emilio Ceca, who was from a long-standing racing family.
In Spain an apprentice (or amateur) can start to ride in races at 14, which Paquito did, winning on his first two rides with Thermidor and Zulia.
In 1976, at just 16 years old, he was given the huge responsibility of riding one of Spain’s best ever horses, Rheffissimo, and together they lifted the Gran Premio de Madrid. “The horse was good, but I was very good as well,” he laughs.
He carried on riding successfully for another 20 years until 1996, achieving a 2nd place finish in the jockeys’ championship in 1994. During his last 6 years as a jockey he was consistently ranked in the top 5 in Spain.
Although a tall and lanky rider, and admittedly a bit agricultural in a finish, he had a great sense of pace, winning the 1994 Copa de Oro at San Sebastian, then a Group 3, on King Cobra. It was a memorable victory as he lost his whip in the dying strides and had to slap the horse home. The celebrations went on long into the night.
Full Article via Trainer Magazine