DUBAI // Chantal Sutherland had her first sighter of the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse yesterday, 12 years after coming to the UAE as a work rider at Nad Al Sheba.
The Canadian jockey is in town to partner Game On Dude, the Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up, in the Dubai World Cup.
Sutherland took to the surface on Florentine Ruler, provided by UAE champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, while in preparation for Saturday's 2,000-metre contest Game On Dude had an easy spin under a work rider.
When asked how she might approach the big race, Sutherland remained tight-lipped, at the behest of Bob Baffert, the gelding's trainer.
"I don't want to say too much about him because I don't want to reveal my hand. We're running for 10 million dollars," she said.
Sutherland went to see Baffert in hospital Wednesday as the 59 year old continues his convalescence after his heart attack early on Monday morning. Sutherland was hopeful he would be released today.
"He's very good," she added. "He's in a great mood. His room in his hospital is like a castle, it's huge. I think Sheikh Mohammed has put him up in style."
Sutherland came out to Dubai for the 1999-2000 season having been offered a job by Beau Greely, the Kentucky trainer. Sutherland, then 23, impressed on a loose-cannon of a horse of Greely's and he promptly offered her a job as work rider on Takarian, who subsequently finished eighth in the Dubai Duty Free.
"I had just finished university and came to Kentucky with a horse from Canada. Beau saw me riding and he was having trouble with a horse called Five Star Day. He turned up and told everybody that girls get along with horses a little differently. Everyone said he was crazy because I was so little. The horse was butter in my hands and we just got along."
And Sutherland was pleasantly surprised by the number of female work riders at Meydan. "There were not a lot of female exercise riders here at the time, only girls with the US horses," she added. "It's really good to see so many woman working here."
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