x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Bentley driven harder by trainer Al Raihe

Jockey surprised by fitness levels now he is working 'full-on'.

Bentley won at Meydan Racecourse this month.
Bentley won at Meydan Racecourse this month.

Harry Bentley has been dealt a "shock to the system," this season at Grandstand Stables, where Ali Rashid Al Raihe has been putting the jockey through his paces.

The 20-year-old rider has three mounts at the picturesque Jebel Ali today, including Happy Dubai in the feature conditions event.

Bentley has ridden four winners in the UAE this season from 31 mounts, but it is not on the racetrack where he had found life tough.

At home in Newmarket Bentley may ride two to three horses per morning across the gallops but under the guidance of Al Raihe, his workload can be over triple that amount on any given day.

"I am there almost every day. It is hard work. I am doing six to eight lots a day, which is pretty full-on," Bentley said. "But I do get to know the horses well. I'm also getting really fit riding so many horses."

Although Al Raihe's English is significantly better than Bentley's grasp of Arabic there is a certain difficulty getting each other's point across but there can be scarcely a better guide of the UAE racing landscape than the reigning UAE champion trainer.

"I know he has my best interests at heart and the other day he told me that if he doesn't have a runner in a certain race he would try to get me on another horse. He is a lovely man and great to work for," Bentley said.

Al Raihe is triple-handed in the Dh120,000 sprint, run over five furlongs. In addition to Happy Dubai, who will be lining up for his 19th run in the UAE this afternoon, the master of Grandstand will also saddle Mujaazef in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and Hajoum for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Dane O'Neill will partner Mujaazef, while Royston Ffrench will be on Hajoum.

On his best form, Happy Dubai would have a significant chance but the presence of Ffrench on the five-year-old's stablemate suggests that a first-time-up victory might not be on the cards.

"I don't have any say in the booking of rides," Bentley said. "I leave that to the boss. When I ring up they simply tell me what I am doing. Royston clearly has plenty of input as to what he is going to ride.

"I am really looking forward to riding him in a race. His last run was in the Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night and he has a touch of class. He seems in good form and should be thereabouts."


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