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Caitlin Jones wins Saudi jockeys’ challenge for Australia

Super-sub Caitlin Jones took the glory in the stc International Jockeys Challenge in Riyadh.

The Australian rider only got the nod to compete in the four-race competition after being a reserve – but grabbed the opportunity with both hands to beat 13 other riders from all over the world and lift the prize.

Jones’ score of 25 points from a winner and a second was enough to secure the title.

Her victory came in round three on Koheylan Alkheil, who scooted clear for an emphatic victory, by three and a quarter lengths from Wisham, with Abo Alnawamees six and a half lengths away in third. She had earlier finished second on Baajerah behind Shane Foley on Alnashaas.

Joel Rosario was second overall, with Glen Boss giving Australia first and third places.

Jones said: “To get this result between myself and Glen for Australia is really overwhelming and I couldn’t be more humbled by the opportunities I got tonight.

“I really did like a couple of my chances tonight. Obviously you like to go in with a bit of confidence, but you never really know. I don’t ride here and it’s not easy to do form. I watched the replays and did as much homework as I could without overdoing it. I never had any dirt experience either.

“My winner was the one I had most confidence in. It had nice form and had a strong win tonight.

“When I got asked to go to Dubai to ride it was an opportunity I was never going to refuse. That’s the wonderful thing about racing – it can take you anywhere in the world.

“My opportunity to ride here came from me going to Dubai. I was invited, but put on reserve. There was a girl in front of me and she couldn’t make it.”

She added: “I found out last Friday that I was coming here. I was happy to be reserve and this is what came of it. Once I knew I was definitely coming here I went in with a fresh mind.

“We’ve had everyone behind us in Australia. Me and Glen know the support we’ve got and half of Australia will probably be partying right now.

“Racing is very strong now for female riders in Adelaide and owners and trainers are getting behind female riders. We are well supported and going forward in leaps and bounds.

“Anything you do, whether it be a local cup win or a Listed success, every winner is so rewarding. This whole experience for me going to Dubai and coming here is definitely within my top three things I’ve accomplished in my riding career thus far.”

Irish ace Foley, the defending champion, got off to the best possible start when taking the first round on Alnashaas but he was unable to sustain his challenge.

Boss vindicated his decision to come out of retirement to make his first visit to Saudi Arabia when landing the second leg on Raaed.

The 52-year-old only retired in November after a stellar career that included three consecutive Melbourne Cups on Makybe Diva. And he showed he had not lost his touch with a brilliant ride on the Bedan Alsubaie-trained five-year-old on his one-night only return.

Raaed, who was bought out of Brian Meehan’s stable for 55,000 guineas at Tattersalls Horses In Training Sales in October 2020, had more horses behind than in front turning for home. However, he found top gear when switched by Boss and stormed into the lead to win by a length and half from Newbolt.

Rosario – winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Knicks Go at Del Mar in November – took the fourth and final leg on Mostawly, coming home a length and a half clear of Well Done to leap into the runner-up spot. Jim Crowley got some points on the board but the other UK representative, Hayley Turner, was out of luck.

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