Panamanian Fernando Jara wants chance to add another title to his 2007 World Cup win

Fernando Jara, the Panamanian jockey, made quite an impression on his two previous visits to the Emirates and he aims to continuing pleasing his newest employer, UAE champion trainer Musabah Al Muhairi.

Jockey Fernando Jara has moved his base from the United States to race for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi. Antonie Robertson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Fernando Jara, the Panamanian jockey, made quite an impression on his two previous visits to the Emirates.

He rode the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Invasor to victory in the 2007 Dubai World Cup in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid in his only ride of the meeting.

Jara returned in the 2008/09 season as stable jockey for the Dubai-based trainer Doug Watson and was crowned the UAE champion jockey.

Now he is now back as stable jockey for the UAE champion trainer Musabah Al Muhairi and kicked off his campaign with a winner from his first ride, on the Purebred Arabian AF Al Sally in Abu Dhabi’s opening meeting last Sunday.

“It is nice to be back to a place I love and to be on-board a winner from my first ride on the new job,” said two days after his arrival.

Jara, who turns 28 on December 18, was to join the Oasis Stables last season but some confusion on his paperwork delayed his arrival by a year.

“The important thing is now I’m back and looking ahead, particularly to ride at Meydan, which is similar to the tracks in the US where I have been riding for most of my time,” he said.

Jara rode Invasor to victory at the old Nad Al Sheba racecourse, which was replaced by Meydan in 2010.

The jockey rose to fame after winning the Belmont Stakes on Jazil in 2006, followed by his success on-board Invasor at both the Breeder’s Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup.

The horses were both trained by McLaughlin for Sheikh Hamdan.

However, the success Jara enjoyed as a teenager also led to his downfall as he became complacent and was taken out from riding McLaughlin’s horses.

His riding career took another blow when he suffered a broken collarbone at Hollywood Park in November 2007. Jara spent the following year riding in Panama.

It was McLaughlin, who spent a decade in Dubai from 1993 and is a three-time UAE champion trainer, who helped Jara to move to Dubai.

The jockey acknowledged his mistakes later in media interviews.

“When I was a little kid, I used to dream all the time of being a jockey and winning those kind of races, but I told myself ‘Maybe when I’m 30 or 40, I might have a chance to ride in one of those races’,” he said. “For all that to happen so quick, it was like it wasn’t real. I think it affected me a little, because sometimes you get kind of big.

“You make a lot of money and get a lot of attention, and you start thinking ‘I don’t need them, I’m the man.’ But it’s not like that.

“I stopped working hard in the mornings; sometimes my agent would get me horses to work and I’d call and say I was sick.”

Jara says all that is behind him and his current focus is on earning the respect of his trainers.

“I took it a bit easy after the success I enjoyed early in my riding career but that was in the past,” he said when asked of his fallout with McLaughlin.

“I rehabilitated myself and that’s when I really enjoyed my time in Dubai.

“I loved the environment and the quality of life.

“Now I’m back in the UAE. It is still very early to think I will be able to ride in the Dubai World Cup, but I’m yearning for that opportunity.

“I hope I get to ride horses like Jazil and Invasor.

“I want to prove that I can do it again.”

That will be a hard proposition because some of the best horses Al Muhairi has in training are Sheikh Hamdan’s and they will be the choices of the owner’s retained jockeys Paul Hanagan and Dane O’Neill, who rode one of them to a win at Jebel Ali on Friday.

“I am aware of that situation but Musabah has a lot of good horses in training and I will have a fair share,” Jara said.


The prep races for both the National Day Cup for Thoroughbreds and the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup for Purebred Arabians are the highlights of Sunday night’s meeting at Abu Dhabi.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Forjatt, winner of the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile in 2013, heads the 14-strong field for thoroughbreds. He was first past the post in the same race last year but was then disqualified. Chris Hayes will ride Forjatt, who will concede weight.

“He is fit and well,” Selvaratnam said. “His penalty will make it difficult, but he will certainly benefit from the run.”

Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi has two entries, with Mustahdaf and Modern History.

Stable jockey Fernando Jara will ride the former in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.

The owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, will ride Mundahesh, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

O’Neill and Al Muhairi team up on Sivit Al Maury, a Group 1 winner in Turkey in September, for the featured Arabians race.

Sivit Al Maury was among the reserves in last week’s Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, the world’s richest race for Purebred Arabians.

The Nacer Samiri-trained pair Areem and Sha’Red are the main dangers to O’Neill’s mount.

Areem is a multiple Group 1 winner, including the National Day Cup in 2012 and 2013. He was also second last year in the same race.

“On his day, he is a very good horse,” said Wayne Smith, who rides the front-running seven-year-old son of Mahabb.

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