x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Bentley riding with class

The rapid rise of Harry Bentley continues when the 19-year-old apprentice jockey partners with Tactician, owned by Queen Elizabeth, in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle racecourse.

The rapid rise of Harry Bentley continues on Saturday when the 19-year-old apprentice jockey gets the leg up on Tactician, owned by Queen Elizabeth of England, in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle racecourse.

Bentley finished sixth in the UAE standings last season, one ahead of Godolphin's Frankie Dettori, and has already eclipsed his 2010 tally of 13 winners during the British season.

"It is a very exciting opportunity to ride for her majesty, and very humbling even to be considered," Bentley said. "I've never ridden for her previously and never thought I would be considered so early in my career."

Bentley rode for Satish Seemar in the UAE last season, accumulating more than US$1.5 million (Dh5.5m) in prize money for his 17 victories. For a teenager, the 10 per cent fee is a considerable sum, and one that is the driving force behind Bentley's hope to return to Zabeel Stables next season.

"It is strange to think that I am challenging jockeys like Frankie in the UAE," Bentley said. "It is what riding in the UAE is all about, winning good money and getting experience."

Despite riding six winners at Jebel Ali and five at Abu Dhabi last season, Meydan remains his favourite track in the UAE, having ridden Navajo Chief to victory during the Dubai International Carnival.

"I didn't envisage getting many rides during the Dubai Carnival, so to ride a winner there was amazing. It is the sheer size and scale of Meydan that I like," he said. "It is totally overwhelming." He missed out on a ride on Dubai World Cup night but he aspires to rectify that.

In an illustration of how confident in the saddle Bentley is becoming, earlier this week he rode for Pat Eddery, now a trainer but formerly a jockey with the second-most victories in Britain. "Mr Eddery spoke to me like any other trainer would. He didn't give me any riding tips," Bentley said.

"Mind you, I didn't ask for any."

This afternoon's assignment on Tactician could prove crucial to his growing reputation. The winner of the Northumberland Plate this year passes the first-ballot stage of the Melbourne Cup, so a win in Newcastle could be the start of a long journey that results in a trip to Australia.

"He's in good form but the ground might have gone against him," Bentley said.