DUBAI // Olivier Peslier, the four-time French champion jockey, is to eschew his usual winter campaign in Japan to ride at Meydan instead. His presence at the Dubai International Racing Carnival, which launches on January 28, brings yet another big-name jockey to a much-anticipated 2010 season. Peslier, 36, is a permanent fixture among the jockey jet-set and one of a handful of riders known as "Concorde jockeys" for their lucrative, globe-trotting careers.
Frankie Dettori will be kept busy riding for Godolphin while Richard Hills maintains his position as Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's No 1, but there will nevertheless be an embarrassment of options for trainers looking to secure the services of the world's elite. After a superb season riding for Sir Michael Stoute, Ryan Moore, who has been crowned England's champion for the second consecutive year will be back, as will Irish champion, Johnny Murtagh, who was Aidan O'Brien's jockey during the summer.
Kieren Fallon, the comeback king, makes the trip and will be attached mainly to Luca Cumani's stable, while Henry Cecil's jockey, Tom Queally, who won five Group Ones this year, is also likely to make the trip. The usual quotient of top US and Australian jockeys will also be desert-bound once trainers from their part of the world confirm attendance. Peslier holds his head high among a roll-call of the world's top-10. He claimed seven wins at the recent Hong Kong meeting, including the Group One Hong Kong Cup, on possible Dubai World Cup contender, Vision D'Etat.
"I have travelled the world to ride in races and I am very excited to see the new Meydan racecourse," he said. "Many jockeys have been keeping an eye on the development." Peslier, who made international headlines when he steered home three consecutive Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe winners, Helissio, Peintre Celebre and Sagamix from 1996-98, is no stranger to the UAE. He claimed the country's premier Arabian contest, the Dubai Kahayla Classic on Magic de Piboul in 2001.
But he has been absent in recent years, preferring to ride in Japan where he has a large and loyal following. Arriving in Dubai on January 20, Peslier said Stephane Chevalier would be helping him with his bookings. Chevalier is assistant to Saudi Arabia-based American trainer, Jerry Barton, who won the US$2million (Dh7.3m) Dubai Golden Shaheen last season with Big City Man. Peslier will be riding some of Barton's horses, which are owned by Saudi's Prince Sultan al Kabeer.
"I have a few things lined up," said Peslier, who could also ride for Alain de Royer-Dupre. "I have some interesting opportunities to come and I will be free to pick up other rides once I am there. I am in Dubai for the whole season, from the opening of Meydan to Dubai World Cup day so we will see what happens." Peslier could be a possible partner to Vision D'Etat in the US$10m Dubai World Cup on March 27 after Libaud confirmed his horse was a likely contender, providing he was happy with the new Tapeta racing surface.
Tiago Pereira, a top Brazilian export, is also on his way to Dubai. The 33-year-old rider, who touches down on January 10, rode 2009 World Cup runner-up, Gloria de Campeao to victory in May's Group One Singapore Cup, denying Cumani's Presvis who was pipped into second under Moore. Presvis, third to Vision D'Etat in Hong Kong for Fallon, arrived in Dubai last week to start his Carnival preparations. Pereira rode Brazilian horses, Sushi Bar to seventh in the 2005 Golden Shaheen and was fifth with Kalibanos in the UAE Derby the same year. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org