DUBAI // A successful jockey's life is a busy one, as last year's top English apprentice, William Buick, knows very well. The in-demand Buick, stable jockey for Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid's trainer, Dhruba Selvaratnam, claimed his first Group One in Canada in October on Mick Channon's Lahaleeb, and, though back in the UAE for the duration of the season, he continues to rack up the air miles.
His most recent trip was to the International Jockeys' Championship in Hong Kong on Wednesday, but Buick will be throwing off any jet lag to partner Mannjal in the seven-furlong Dh100,000 feature race at Jebel Ali today. He celebrated his first Listed victory in the UAE last Sunday when he rode Jasoos to a convincing win in the National Day Cup. Now Buick, 21, and Selvaratnam's Mannjal will be looking to better the form which saw the gelding win over six furlongs at the same track three weeks ago.
Then the stewards handed Buick first place after the winner, Montpellier, trained by Ali Rashid al Raihe under Ahmed Ajtebi was disqualified for obstructing Mannjal's progress in the final furlong. Buick, who also rode Meeris to victory in a one-mile handicap that day, obviously thrives on his busy schedule - no sooner were those winners in the bag than the youngster jumped on a plane to ride for his UK boss, Andrew Balding, in the French Group One Criterium de Saint-Cloud the next day. Download the race card
He was sixth in that two-year-old contest, which saw Godolphin's Passion for Gold under Frankie Dettori storm into Derby contention with an easy victory. "It's a pretty busy time," said Buick before he travelled to Hong Kong. "Flying out on Monday, riding on Wednesday, back on Thursday and riding at Jebel Ali on Friday is pretty hectic." Buick, son of the successful jockey Walter Buick, who rode 1,500 winners in Scandinavia, including 22 classics, before returning to the UK, has the drive to match his undoubted talent.
"I was invited out to Hong Kong by the Jockey Club and it's a great opportunity," he said. "All the top jockeys will be riding and it's an honour to be among them. It's tiring but I love it, I don't mind it at all." Buick is well-regarded in racing circles, with Balding's father, Ian, backing him to be champion jockey by 2020 - and that was before the young man had even had his first ride in a race.
But competition will come from all corners of the 11-strong field today, especially with Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid sending out a four-pronged attack. Heading the list is Estihdaaf, the choice of Sheikh Hamdan's jockey, Tadhg O'Shea, who rode him to victory in the season's opening meet over course and distance. Estihdaaf is from al Raihe's in-form yard, which claimed a winning treble last week. Doug Watson's 2009 Carnival horse, the four-year-old Tasdeer, opens his seasonal account in this race and another Sheikh Hamdan runner, Aqmaar, trained by Erwan Charpy and ridden by Pat Smullen, is listed among the starters after his sixth in Sunday's National Day Cup.
Aamaaq, last seen coming fourth in a conditions race over the same trip on November 20, is al Raihe's second Sheikh Hamdan runner in the contest. Taking them all on is Watson's top-weighted Fares, owned by Mohammed Rashid bin Ghadayer, who is having a shorter trip than his mile-long previous outing in which he finished seventh. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org