ASCOT, ENGLAND // It has been three years since Aaron Gryder scooped the Dubai World Cup by a record margin and the American jockey is once again on the international stage when he contests today's Shergar Cup jockeys' challenge at Ascot Racecourse.
Gryder, a 42-year-old California native, rode Well Armed to a stunning 14-length victory in the world's most valuable race on the final night at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in 2009. He has ridden in Dubai 17 times.
Team USA have set the pace at the London Olympics, and Gryder is hoping some of the American momentum will rub off on him. David Flores is the only American jockey to win the Silver Saddle, the prize for accumulating the most points out of the six races of the competition. It is something Gryder is hoping to replicate.
"Both styles work but the European style is that their bodies move more, they have more action on the back of a horse and they get more momentum and maybe that rhythm helps them," he said.
"American riders are quieter on a horse and look more balanced. Strength is a great thing to have but it's not a requirement to be champion jockey. It doesn't matter how much you can bench press in the gym; it is about how many races you win."
As it happens, Gryder is extremely strong. He has ridden 3,556 winners in North America, and among his hobbies is working out beyond the call of duty for any rider.
On Thursday he went to his hotel gym "for several hours and walked eight miles around London" and alongside yoga, swimming and working with dieticians he also likes to climb the odd mountain.
Gryder will be in action alongside Yutake Take, the Japanese jockey, and Matthew Chadwick, the young Hong Kong star, in a "Rest Of The World" team doing battle against Great Britain and Ireland, Europe and for the first time, an all-women team.
Whereas some of the jockeys are in London for a bit of fun, there seems to be a further agenda behind Gryder's presence. Fresh from his Dubai World Cup victory in 2009 he spent a few months riding in Japan when his two children were very young.
Riding abroad was an experience he relished, but also found difficult as Ladera Ranch in Orange County is a long way from Tokyo.
Gryder told British newspapers this week that he was considering finishing his career in England after riding here only once 20 years ago in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York. With proven form in Dubai, he may well be appearing at the Dubai World Cup Carnival again.
"The racing in Dubai is top class and I would definitely do the Dubai Carnival if I was with a steady outfit or trainer. I would welcome that opportunity in a heartbeat," he said.
"The carnival is not that long and my children could spend time with me. We have the Santa Anita meet at the beginning of the year, which is the strongest meet in Southern California, but there is nothing more important than being on the best horses so if they were in Dubai then that's where I'd be."
ASCOT, England // Chantal Sutherland reported that Game On Dude is to head for the Pacific Classic at Del Mar Racecourse in California later this month.
The Canadian rider and model’s bandwagon rolled into London earlier this week for the Shergar Cup jockey’s competition at Ascot Racecourse.
Sutherland joins Hayley Turner, the British jockey who in March became the first woman to ride a thoroughbred on Dubai World Cup night, and Emma-Jayne Wilson, a fellow Canadian jockey, in the women’s team.
The 36 year old finished 12th of the 13 runners in this year’s Dubai World Cup but Game On Dude, who bounced back to form in two subsequent starts, is back in America on Hollywood Park’s synthetic track. “Game On Dude is going for the Pacific Classic and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is doing very well,” said Sutherland, who has ridden 929 career victories. “My ambitions include winning the Pacific Classic, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Kentucky Derby and getting 1,000 wins hopefully this year.”
Turner has ridden four winners in the 12-year-old challenge, and she took her two teammates around the royal track yesterday to give them an idea of what they face, especially in the stayers’ race. “I don’t know a whole lot about Ascot but it looks like it will be an amazing experience,” Sutherland said.
“I have never ridden over two miles before but I like that at least one of my mounts will have a good chance because in other jockey challenges you can end up on crazy long shots.”
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