x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Two rides put William Buick in the driver's seat

The jockey has a daily double of his own to meet up with as he will ride Nathaniel at Leopardstown on the outskirts of Dublin then helicopter to Haydock Park in England to partner Ortensia.

William Buick will partner with Ortensia, right, again, but not before he rides Nathaniel earlier in the day.  Buick will use a helicopter to quickly traverse the 300-kilometre distance between the two racecourses.
William Buick will partner with Ortensia, right, again, but not before he rides Nathaniel earlier in the day. Buick will use a helicopter to quickly traverse the 300-kilometre distance between the two racecourses.

It is a measure of how highly regarded Ortensia now is in Europe that the jockey William Buick has done his utmost to partner the mare in the Sprint Cup at Haydock Park Saturday night.

The racecourse lies outside of Liverpool in the north-west of England, and Buick will be on board Ortensia for the fourth time as the pair team up in an attempt to extend their record to three victories and two successive Group 1 races.

However, just over two hours later Buick will be required by his boss, John Gosden, to ride Nathaniel against St Nicholas Abbey and Snow Fairy in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, which is located on the outskirts of Dublin.

It is a trip of some 300km.

Buick has accumulated over £2.7 million (Dh15.8m) in prize-money riding in Britain this year, though, and finding the means to ride in both races is a little easier if you have access to adequate funding.

"It will be a helicopter from here to Leopardstown after the Sprint Cup, and I'm looking forward to it," Buick said. "It was whether I could squeeze Ortensia in on the same day and now, thankfully, it's looking possible."

Flying in helicopters and riding two favourites in as many Group 1 races on the same day only underlines that the 23-year-old jockey has joined a small but select band of riders who can compete at a moment's notice all over the world.

The likes of Frankie Dettori, Olivier Peslier and Gerald Mosse have been at it for years, and Buick is humble enough to understand he has joined this elite group of riders at an early stage of his career.

"I'm just very fortunate to be able to ride two horses of that calibre on the same day," he said.

"It's a fantastic position to be in and I can't quite believe it."

Craig Williams, the Australian jockey, flew to England to partner Ortensia at Royal Ascot in June but that was also in part because he had hoped to ride Dunaden, the Melbourne Cup winner, at the same meeting.

Although Ortensia, who won the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Racecourse in March, fluffed her lines at the Royal Meeting and then failed to handle the rain-affected going at Newemarket when fourth in the July Cup, she has shown in her two subsequent starts that she is the best sprinter in Europe this season.

The going at Haydock is currently good, which should once again allow her to use her devastating turn of foot. So far in her past two races she has been quicker than any other horse in five of the 10 furlongs she has covered.

Ortensia already has beaten Bated Breath, Confessional, Dandy Boy, and Elusivity, who also line up in the six-furlong event. If she can defeat them again, and her 10 other rivals, it means in all likelihood she will be crowned European Champion Sprinter.

The title is decided at a handicappers meeting in Hong Kong in December and is awarded to the single-best performance of the year.

With the Australian mare Black Caviar running well below form at Royal Ascot, the door is ajar for Ortensia to take her place.

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