The Grandstand stables jockey will represent the UAE in Qatar's inaugural Apprentice Jockey Invitation competition over the next three days.
Doha draw is unkind on Emirati rider Saeed Al Mazrooei
Saeed Al Mazrooei will represent the UAE in Qatar's inaugural Apprentice Jockey Invitation competition over the next three days in Doha.
The Emirati rider, who is an apprentice at Ali Rashid Al Raihe's Grandstand stables in Dubai, is one of 15 riders to have been invited, all of whom are from racing jurisdictions that make up the Asian Racing Federation.
The competition takes place to a backdrop of the prestigious international meeting, which features Group 1 races such as the HH The Emir's Trophy for thoroughbreds and the HH The Emir's Sword for Purebred Arabians on Thursday, which contribute to a purse of Dh8.7 million across three days.
"I've never been to Qatar before but it's a nice place," Al Mazrooei said yesterday. "These jockey contests are all about the luck of the draw but I will try my best. I am very proud to be representing the UAE."
It has been meteoric rise for Al Mazrooei, who only started riding in 2010 and has partnered six winners from 150 rides. He has held an advantage over many promising riders, however, as he points out that one of his brothers is an endurance racing trainer to Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.
At Grandstand stables he can also rely on the advice of Royston Ffrench, who will also be in Qatar to partner Happy Dubai, who is entered in tonight's Group 3 Qatar 2022 Invitation Cup, and Al Shemali who is in the Emir's Trophy.
"Royston has helped me a lot," said Al Mazrooei. "We work together in the mornings. I don't know if Happy Dubai will like the track here as they race the other way around to Meydan."
The draw has not been kind to the jockey, who will tonight ride Hadaf in the opening round at 6.20pm. The seven year old finished last on his previous two runs and he has only won twice in a 30-race career. His thoroughbred ride on Thursday, Noor's Goldway, is also a testing mount, having never won from 18 starts, but the 24 year old is optimistic of his chances tomorrow when he rides Qadeer, saddled by top French trainer Alban de Mieulle.
"My mount on day one [Hadaf] is OK," he added. "I have a chance on Wednesday in the Arabian race for a good trainer."
If the horses allocated to Al Mazrooei have been disappointing, the standard of his rivals are not. Rosie Myers, the Australian rider, is among a select group of women to have ridden a winner in a Group 1 race. Then there is Chon Fong Wong, who was champion apprentice in Macau in 2008/09 as well as last year, and Razali Zawari, who has ridden winners in Singapore for Patrick Shaw, the trainer of Dubai Golden Shaheen winner, Rocket Man.
Like Al Mazrooei, Zawari is impressed by the standard of apprentices the Qatari racing committee has assembled and will be looking for tips from the more celebrated jockeys such as Ffrench, Christophe Soumillion and Olivier Peslier, who will be gracing the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club.
"It will be a very good experience for me and it will be a good opportunity to see how I measure up against apprentices from so many other countries," he said.