Racing: Fabre gives Stevens a return ticket to Europe

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The Independent Online

Gary Stevens, whose most recent appearances in Europe have been on the silver screen in the Oscar-nominated Seabiscuit, is to ride for the Chantilly stable of André Fabre, France's multiple champion trainer. "I would have to have my head examined to turn this down," the American said. "To me, at the age of 40, it's the opportunity of a lifetime."

Fabre, for whom Stevens rode In The Wings to win the 1990 Breeders' Cup Turf, has been without a jockey since splitting with Olivier Peslier in 2002. Last year he employed Christophe Soumillon whenever the Aga Khan-contracted Belgian-born rider was free.

Stevens had a two-month stint with Sir Michael Stoute in 1999 during which he won the Juddmonte International on Henry Cecil's Royal Anthem, but returned to the States after being offered the position as jockey to Prince Ahmed Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation. But the winner of 5,000 races, including three Kentucky Derbys, stood down from that role after suffering a knee injury for which he has undergone five operations in five years.

He escaped serious injury last August when flung to the ground as Storming Home swerved in the closing stages of the Arlington Million.