x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Jockey Andrea Atzeni takes over Qatar Racing’s saddle from Jamie Spencer

In other news, Sole Power overcomes major traffic problems to win the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on the Knavesmire on Friday.

Andrea Atzeni will be supported by Oisin ­Murphy at Qatar Racing. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Andrea Atzeni will be supported by Oisin ­Murphy at Qatar Racing. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

YORK, ENGLAND // Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid will require a new retained jockey at the end of the year after Andrea Atzeni was named as the replacement first rider for Qatar Racing following Jamie Spencer’s shock retirement announcement on Thursday.

Atzeni will start with Sheikh Fahad al Thani’s operation from January, when Spencer moves upstairs into an, as yet, undefined management role.

Atzeni will be supported by rising star of the British weighing room 18-year-old Irishman Oisin ­Murphy.

It leaves no space for Harry Bentley, who operated under Spencer, and the 22-year-old jockey will go freelance, although he has forged strong links with Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor this season.

Atzeni took over Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid’s retainer only recently after he took over the duties of Kieren Fallon, who now rides for Godolphin, in July.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid has 24 horses lodged with Luca Cumani in Newmarket.

“I am very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed bin Obaid and Luca Cumani, who have both been terrific to ride for,” Atzeni said.

The 23-year-old Italian obtained his riding licence at age 17 and has had a meteoric rise.

Through his relationship with Roger Varian he rode horses such as Ambivalent, who he partnered to third place in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March, and Kingston Hill, who was second in the English Derby at Epsom in June.

“I would like to thank Roger Varian and his wife Hanako for their support,” Atzeni said. “I credit Roger with putting me on the map, through horses such as Kingston Hill. I feel very privileged to have been asked to ride as first jockey for ­Qatar Racing.”

The merry-go-round is a significant blow for Bentley, who has ridden extensively in the UAE and even rode a six-timer in Qatar this winter.

His contract with Qatar Racing was for two years and it has been apparent that he had ridden more and more for Godolphin these past few months.

Bentley has ridden 19 times for Bin Suroor in Britain this season for five winners.

He has the opportunity to continue to ride for Qatar Racing when opportunities allow next season. “Harry is a gifted horseman and his results for us and others over the last two seasons have more than repaid Sheikh Fahad’s faith that he is destined for the very top,” David Redvers, Sheikh Fahad’s racing and bloodstock adviser, said.

A spokesman for Qatar Racing on Thursday revealed that the operation is set to undergo a significant restructure and now the personnel are in place the rest will surely follow.

Qatar Racing have about 250 horses worldwide based largely in England, Ireland and France, although that number swells markedly when you include horses owned in conjunction with other individuals and operations.

Redvers has worked tirelessly as both racing manager and bloodstock adviser, and has recently been assisted by Kevin Darley, another former jockey, in the north of England.

Spencer lives in Newmarket, where he is likely to be based, which leaves the question of whether Qatar Racing will appoint anybody to look after their interests outside Britain and why this had to happen during the European Turf season.

Sole Power muscles his way through the crowd for third major win

Sole Power overcame major traffic problems to win the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on the Knavesmire on Friday.

It was a close-run thing, as Richard Hughes held up the admirable seven-year-old gelding and halfway through the 1,000-metre sprint Hughes found himself stuck behind a wall of horses.

The Irish jockey bided his time for a few strides before he unleashed his mount through an opening to win by half a length from Stepper Point, the same horse he beat in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

Extortionist was third, while Shea Shea looks to be drawing towards the end of his career, having finished 12th of the 13 runners.

It was the third time Sole Power had won at the highest level and trainer Edward Lynam suggested there may be three more appearances from his evergreen charge this season.

Irish Champions Weekend next month has been pencilled in, followed by a run in the Prix l’Abbaye de Longchamp in October in which Sole Power was sixth last year, fifth the year before that and third in 2011. Hong Kong could be the final stop of the year. “He’s a super horse, a horse of a lifetime, it’s just the way he does it,” Lynam said.

Earlier in the day, Dermot Weld’s Pale Mimosa won the Lonsdale Cup from Estimate, owned by Queen Elizabeth.

Both horses could head to Australia in November for the Melbourne Cup, sponsored by Emirates, and so could Godolphin’s Cavalryman, who was fourth.

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