x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Queally's masterful quest

Tom Queally will showcase his skills at the Meydan Masters over the next two days without the ride that has made him a jockey of international renown.

Tom Queally, at 27, may be considered a late bloomer as a jockey of renown, but he is making up for lost time.
Tom Queally, at 27, may be considered a late bloomer as a jockey of renown, but he is making up for lost time.

 

Tom Queally once described the sport of kings as simply, "running around a field".

While the brusque Irishman may never match the likes of Frankie Dettori for his promotion and showmanship, Queally's association with one horse will continue to keep the sport's public relations machine churning for the remainder of 2012.

Despite his repeated desire to keep a low profile, Queally's nine unbeaten rides on Frankel over the past two years has created an aura of invincibility that racegoers around the world want to see increase in magnitude.

The crowds are hungry for another glimpse of Frankel's raking stride, his now-filled athletic frame and for the diamond emblazoned on the colt's forehead to shimmer past the winning post having stepped up in distance from a mile.

But Queally will showcase his skills at the Meydan Masters over the next two days without the ride that has made him a jockey of international renown.

"I am very fortunate to be associated with Frankel, it is an honour," Queally said. "The fact that he stayed unbeaten last season is testament to his incredible ability.

"Everyone at home reckons he will stay 10 furlongs. The prospect of him staying unbeaten next year also is very exciting.

"There's plenty of jockeys who will never get to sit on anything like him, and there's a good chance that I won't ever ride a horse as good as him again, either."

Without the world's best thoroughbred beneath him, Queally appreciates he is just one of 12 elite jockeys on show at Meydan Racecourse. The irony is not lost on him that the rider drawn to partner the best horses will win the jockeys challenge over the next two days.

"The thing with these jockey challenges is that winning them is really down to getting drawn on the good horses," he said. "Good horses make good jockeys, so you've got to be lucky.

"That's all there really is to it."

Queally will draw on his previous experience of these competitions, especially as in November he was able to pick up on the riding style of Andrasch Starke, the German who won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Danedream last year and against whom he will be riding in Dubai.

In the Citizen International Jockeys Challenge at Turffontein in Johannesburg and Kenilworth in Cape Town, Starke and Queally teamed up with Richard Hughes, Jamie Spencer, Olivier Peslier and Jimmy Fortune to beat the South African team.

Neither Queally nor Starke covered themselves in glory, finishing nearer the bottom than the top of the table, but Queally did ride a winner, Mike de Kock's Europa Point.

"It was a good experience," Queally said. "It's great to be seen on the big stage, rubbing shoulders with the so-called best jockeys in the world.

"It's good for the profile."

For all his success on Frankel, the 27 year old remains a rider who entered the upper echelons of the sport relatively late in comparison to some of his rivals.

Frankel's victory in the English 2,000 Guineas last April remains his only Classic success, and his first Group 1 winner was aboard Art Connoisseur in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot in 2009.

As a direct comparison with some of the more precocious riders he faces, Mickael Barzalona won the English Derby at Epsom last year aged 19 on his first ride in the British Classic. Maxime Guyon collected his first Group 1 winner aged 20. William Buick was 21 and Craig Williams 23 when riding to theirs.

Queally may have had to work harder than some of the more naturally gifted riders, but his success in 2011 was such that, as far as win prize money was concerned, there was no jockey in Britain who collected more.

Alongside Frankel, Sir Henry Cecil, the trainer, and owner Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have provided Queally with a stream of big-race winners, including Midday, who beat Snow Fairy at Goodwood in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes in July.

Queally is also mindful of the relatively new backing of Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa, who owns Vita Nova, the unlucky filly who failed to find a route to the winners' enclosure last year.

Sheikh Sultan has some interesting juveniles coming through the ranks, including the well-fancied Aquilla with Sir Michael Stoute, but Queally is more hushed about the un-raced talent lurking in Cecil's Warren Place stables for next season.

"We've got some nicely bred types and on pedigree you would have thought they'd be good ones, and some have been working well," Queally said. "But it's always hard to know which ones are geese and which ones are swans."

Although it has taken him a while to mature into a more complete rider, there is no denying now which of a goose or swan Queally really is.

 

sports@thenational.ae