Top jockeys flocking to new course

The deluge of top jockeys descending on Meydan Racecourse this season is reminiscent of the crop of international riders at a Breeders' Cup World Championship, according to trainer Mike de Kock.

DUBAI // The deluge of top jockeys descending on Meydan Racecourse this season is reminiscent of the crop of international riders at a Breeders' Cup World Championship, according to trainer Mike de Kock. The South African said the calibre of riders in the Emirates, combined with new facilities and the presence of top international trainers, would produce some of the world's best racing.

"Look at the top jockeys riding here. Having blokes like that in Dubai says a lot. I don't think other than the Breeders' Cup you will see that concentration of top jockeys at any other racetracks," he said. "It's going to be world class racing from the horses and the boys in the saddle." De Kock recently benefited from the services of the Aga Khan's former jockey, Belgium's Christophe Soumillon, who is now riding for his main owner, Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa. The pair wasted no time making their mark. Raihana won the 1,000 Guineas Trial and Lizard's Desire took the next race, while de Kock's other rider, Kevin Shea, rode King of Rome to second.

A glance at the results from Thursday reads like a Who's Who of top jockeys. Aside from the three-time French champion Soumillon, the first day of racing also saw Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Richard Hills, Godolphin's Frankie Dettori, English champion Ryan Moore and Irish jockey Kieren Fallon in the winners' enclosure. Brazil's Tiago Pereira won Thursday's feature and St Leger winner Ted Durcan also shone on Sir Gerry. Multiple French champion, Olivier Peslier, is likely to be here this season, while other names, including 2009 World Cup winner Aaron Gryder, Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel, Melbourne Cup winner Corey Brown, Ireland's Johnny Murtagh and France's Christophe Lemaire are expected in town before the World Cup on March 27.

stregoning@thenational.ae