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Breeders Cup Saturday
Winner Caitlin Jones celebrates after winning the challenge
On the evening before the third running of the $20 million Saudi Cup, was the third edition of the $1.6 million stc International Jockeys Challenge. 14 riders from around the world (7 males and 7 females) were invited to compete, and were randomly assigned mounts in 4 races on the card, all run under handicap weights around 1 turn of the dirt track (distances from 6 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles) with $400,000 purses, the first 3 for older horses but the 4th and final leg restricted to 3-year-olds. Points were awarded based on the jockey's placing in each race, using a 15-10-7-5-3 system, with the leader after the 4 races declared the winner of the trophy and $100,000. Conditions were ideal during the races, with clear skies, temperatures in the low 80's, the main track fast and the turf course good-to-firm.
Jockey Caitlin Jones won the third race of the competition aboard Koheylan Alkheil.
Joel Rosario won the fourth leg of the challenge aboard Mostawly.
Jockey Glen Boss won the Second race of the competition aboard Raaed.
Glen Boss, Joel Rosario, and Caitlin Jones pose with their trophies.
The jockeys who participated in the challenge along with their final points score: Caitlin Jones (25), Joel Rosario (22), Glen Boss (17), Shane Foley (15), Jim Crowley (15), Alexis Moreno (14), Marie Velon (10), Sam Collett (10), U. Holmquist (9), C. Lemaire (8), and A. Alfairouz (7).
Jones added, "It is sensational for Australia that myself and ‘Bossy' have won races here tonight. I had some really nice horses to help and I have to thank those connections, and the racecourse has been presented perfectly. My opportunity came from being over in Dubai and I was actually invited as a reserve - there was another girl in front of me but she couldn't make it. I found out last Friday I'd got an email to say that I was coming. I have a lot of people to thank, especially trainer Will Clarken who brought me to Dubai to ride his horses, and without that I would not be here tonight. To be rewarded with this is overwhelming."
Ronan Thomas wins the Saudi International Handicap sponsored by Al Rajhi Bank aboard Lauderdale (outside)
Left: Lauderdale heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Albon de Mieulle, who trains the first two finishers, said, "I was not expecting to win with [Lauderdale], I was expecting to win with [King Shalaa]. They both did a good job. It's a handicap race. In handicaps all horses should finish on the same line. You might have some traffic problems but the race is the race. Today both jockeys did well, and we ran first and second. I am so happy for both owners. It's my first time here in Saudi Arabia. The track is very nice; it's an amazing track. Well done to Saudi Arabia to have a track like that. The sand track looks fantastic and the grass is very, very nice. I am very very pleased to see that - well done to them. I've been in Qatar for more than 25 years. I'm working for His Highness Mohammed Bin Hamad Khalifa Al Attiyah, and I will say thank you to him for this. We'll decide with the owner on a plan - there's a race in Qatar in one month, I think we will look there and maybe next season if the rating isn't too high, we'll come back."
Right: Lauderdale in the walking ring before the race. Winning jockey Ronan Thomas said, "Amazing race! I took my time on him, let him relax - I was following Saiydabad at the top of the straight as I knew he would be one of the big chances. Then he accelerated very well for me. I wasn't sure if he would stay the full distance - I thought it might be a bit far - but he tried very hard and just held on. He is a pretty smart horse; he was Listed standard in France and he has been finding his form in Qatar before coming here."
Left: Second place finisher King Shalaa returns after the race. Jockey Olivier Peslier said, "Nice horse, I was stuck down the outside but he showed a good turn of foot." Trainer Albon de Mieulle said, "The problem was that King Shalaa was [drawn] 14 outside in the gate; it is difficult. I told Olivier, ‘You have to wait, you have to be covered with your horse. Try to come in a straight line, you will see where you can find the way,' and he did, very well. If he has a good draw King Shalaa would beat Lauderdale."
Right: Third place finisher My Frankel in the walking ring before the race. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "I thought we were going to be in the lead, but he broke a little bit slow, so I had to go to another plan. He did well for a little while there; I had to shake him a little bit in the first turn. He did well - he was fighting there at the end."
Ronan Thomas wins the Al Mneefah Cup presented by The Ministry of Culture aboard First Classs
Left: First Classs heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Ronan Thomas said, "I was really confident before the race because I know my horse properly; he made a perfect race when he won the Derby in Qatar. It's a very high level of Arabian racing, we beat Abbes who finished second to Lady Princess in the big race there. So it was a tough race today, but I was really confident after the start I had the perfect place and you can see I went to the front without using my whip. He's a really nice horse."
Right: First Classs in the walking ring before the race. Winning trainer Alban de Mieulle said, "He travelled very well. Soko was in front with the Al Khalediah horse on the inside. We thought it would be run at a faster pace but no, not too fast, but he was travelling so easily behind and he was waiting, waiting and then came on the outside. I'm very pleased."
Left: Second place finisher Soko leads first time by. Jockey Olivier Peslier said, "He's a lovely horse and he travelled very well and fought very well. He was just lovely and always running well with good acceleration. He got beat near the finish and ran a great race. When the winner passed me, he went by really quick, so we were a good second. I'm very happy with him."
Right: Third place finisher Dergham Athbah in the walking ring before the race. Jockey Fernando Jara said, "We are really happy with him. Mohammed [Dagash, trainer] was really high on him. I got a clean trip. Coming to the stretch he responded very well. He's OK on the dirt too but he's better on the turf, I think. He showed a better turn of foot on it than in his last race. He's really enjoying himself here, the way he was training and everything here. I think he is happy."
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