Saudi Arabia – Australia’s Caitlin Jones Captures International Jockeys Challenge; Joel Rosario Second, Glen Boss 3rd
One of the all-time greats of Australian racing, Glen Boss, officially brought the curtain down on his riding career with a final victory in the second leg of the stc International Jockeys Challenge but he was outdone by his compatriot Caitlin Jones in the overall standings, with the pair finishing first and third for Australia.
Jones, who is regularly based in Morphettville, South Australia, has been riding in Dubai recently and travelled to Saudi Arabia for the first time to take part in the unique challenge during the first day of The Saudi Cup meeting which pits seven female jockeys against seven male riders.
She rode Koheylan Alkheil (KSA) to victory in the third leg of the series, and was runner-up in the first race to finish on 25 points, three clear of Joel Rosario. As well as the prize-money she accumulated per race – each leg was worth US $400,000 – Jones takes home $100,000 as series champion.
“To win a series like this, doing it on the world stage, there is nothing more rewarding,” Jones said.
“My filly in the last race ran well enough to get points but we got a winner earlier in the night and had a second straight off the bat, so it has been a really awesome experience for me.”
She continued: “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.”
American-based Joel Rosario, who rides Midnight Bourbon (USA) for trainer Steve Asmussen in the $20 million The Saudi Cup on Saturday, finished second in the challenge, having won the final race aboard Mostawly (KSA).
“It means a lot to finish second in this Jockeys Challenge,” Rosario said.
“It already meant a lot to be part of it and I want to thank everyone for having me.
“It is special for me to be here in Saudi Arabia. I’m very blessed. It was very nice to win a race in the Challenge, so that was very good. It’s unique to be here, to ride against the best in the world.”
Glen Boss announced his retirement from racing in November following a glittering 37-year career in the saddle in which he won three Melbourne Cups and the Cox Plate on four occasions, among a string of big-race victories.
The 52-year-old, who partnered the Bedan Alsubaie-trained Raeed (IRE) to an easy win in the second leg of the challenge, said: “That was good fun, to be honest. The speed was very hot, and I had looked at the replays and knew my horse would be strong late. I am really happy. It’s a brilliant track; very, very good.
“I did what I wanted to do and I would have loved to have won, for sure, but I felt like I rode well and gave my mounts their chance. It’s an incredible experience. I’ve come here and had a wonderful experience and caught up with some of my old friends in the jocks’ room that I haven’t seen for years. To see Caitlin win it, a young girl who rides well in Australia, what a thrill to see the look on her face – that is priceless.”
Speaking about his retirement, Boss added: “I don’t feel sad that it is over. I was happy to come and do this and if I’d won it would have been fantastic but it wasn’t about winning really. I got a few tingles today, so that was good.”
In three years of the stc International Jockey Challenge it has twice been won by female jockeys, with Sybille Vogt of Switzerland landing the inaugural series, and Ireland’s Shane Foley taking the title last year. Foley won the first leg of the 2022 Challenge on Alnashaas (KSA), commenting: “I was lucky here last year, and obviously we picked up where we left off!”
Other stc International Jockey Challenge quotes:
Jessica Pyfer (USA): “I think I’m going to get back home and think it’s easy! I’ve never done anything like this before so I feel like I’ve learned a lot. It was a really good experience.”
Hayley Turner (GBR): “I think I finished nearly last a couple of times but the whole thing was great. I hadn’t ridden here before, and it’s a nice atmosphere and the horses were easy to ride and knew their job.”
Ulrika Holmquist (SWE): “I got a third, so I was happy with that. I’m not one of the senior jockeys here, it’s only my fourth year, but I enjoyed it and felt like I learned a lot.”