x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jockey Craig Williams hopes for Royal Ascot call up with Animal Kingdom

Jockey Craig Williams feels his close family ties with the owners of Animal Kingdom will land him aboard the horse for the Royal Ascot but the Dubai World Cup winner may also be put out to stud, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

The immediate future of Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom is uncertain as jockey Craig Williams is hoping to race the horse in June. Sammy Dallal / The National
The immediate future of Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom is uncertain as jockey Craig Williams is hoping to race the horse in June. Sammy Dallal / The National

Jockey Craig Williams believes that his association with the Messara family could help him gain the ride on Animal Kingdom should the Dubai World Cup winner line up at Royal Ascot in June.

Animal Kingdom won the world's most valuable contest under Joel Rosario last Saturday and will ship for England on Saturday.

A decision is yet to be made as to whether he will run at the Royal meeting, or will be retired to stud.

Williams rode Ortensia for trainer Paul Messara when the Australian mare won the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night 12 months ago and again when she ran ninth to Little Bridge in the King's Stand Stakes in England.

John Messara, Paul's father, bought a 75 per cent stake in Animal Kingdom and, according to Williams, had tried to get him the ride in Dubai.

"John Messara spoke to me and he put in a really good bid for me to ride the horse in the World Cup. I hope he will push for me. It would be great," the jockey told The Age, an Australian newspaper.

"He did everything right in the World Cup, but you never know."

Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom's trainer, is not one for changing jockeys, however. Rosario fluffed his lines during Animal Kingdom's prep run for Dubai when going for home too early at Gulfstream Park in February.

Rosario had signed a two-race deal and was retained by the trainer, despite having never ridden at Meydan Racecourse.

"I hate to see a jockey get yanked off a horse," Motion said. "I think Animal Kingdom has become a more difficult horse to ride. He's bigger and stronger."

The horse's management face a difficult board meeting over the next few days in deciding whether Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes, over a mile, or the Prince Of Wales's Stakes, over two furlongs farther, is the more suitable target.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE