x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

William Buick is eager to get back to riding winners in Dubai after a concussion

The Dubai regular and jockey talks about his fall and subsequent recovery from concussion, his victory in the Sheema Classic last year and a meeting with Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid.

William Buick gives a thumbs-up after riding Dar Re Mi to victory in the Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse last year.
William Buick gives a thumbs-up after riding Dar Re Mi to victory in the Sheema Classic at Meydan Racecourse last year.

William Buick will again cut a frustrated figure at the Meydan Racecourse tonight.

The young jockey has been out of action since the end of last year and he just cannot wait to get back to doing what he does best, riding winners.

Buick has been out of the saddle since suffering a concussion in a fall at Meydan last month, and tonight's meeting is the last he has to sit out.

The Norwegian-born jockey, who holds both British and Danish citizenship, spent four nights in hospital after his fall. He has just started riding out again in preparation for a February 3 comeback.

"This will be the last night I have to watch from the sidelines," Buick said. "I was pretty sore but the most worrying thing was that I must have trapped a nerve in my back because I couldn't feel my leg in the ambulance.

"There were some scary moments but luckily that was fine and a concussion was the only injury I had but that's all over now."

"It's been boring, I can't wait to get back in the saddle and back racing, it's far more interesting than watching."

Buick who has wintered in Dubai for the last three years riding Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid horses for the trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, was joint British champion apprentice in 2008 and was twice voted the Apprentice of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

He rode out his claim in just two seasons yet it was still a surprise when he received a call from John Gosden, the Classic-winning trainer, who wanted to offer the 22-year-old a job.

"I hadn't ever had anything to do with John before and I was in Dubai last year when he rang me and said he wanted to have a meeting," Buick said.

"It was a surprise but a very nice surprise and luckily it went really well and we won the Sheema Classic on World Cup Day and then went on to do really well. It's been a dream come true for me."

Buick's victory on Andrew Lloyd Webber's Dar Re Mi in the US$5 million (Dh18.36m) Group 1 race kick-started a scintillating season for the new partnership and saw the young jockey bag a handful of top-tier victories.

Buick completed a Group 1 double in short order with a nerves-of-steel ride on the Gosden-trained Debussy in the Arlington Million in the US and just 16 hours later crossed the finish line first in Deauville, France, in the Prix Morny on Dream Ahead for David Simcock.

He then won the St Leger, the English Classic, on Gosden's Arctic Cosmos and added another Group 1 with Dream Ahead in the Shadwell Middle Park Stakes.

Debussy, who was running for Gosden in the colours of Princess Haya when he won the Arlington Million, has since been transferred to Godolphin and will be aimed at the Dubai World Cup by Mahmoud al Zarooni, his trainer.

Gosden said he was not disappointed to lose the classy runner. "I am delighted to have had the horse and to have won the Arlington Million with him as a four-year-old," said the trainer, whose Azmeel was unplaced in a 2,000m turf handicap at Meydan last week.

Gosden will also bring Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Tazeez to the emirate for the Dubai Duty Free on World Cup day.

"In my job you have to watch horses and riders and I'd watched William since he was a kid and it seemed to me the lad had reached a stage in his career where he was ready," Gosden said. "He came up through the best academy at Kingsclere [apprenticed to Andrew Balding] and learned the game properly and he was ready to have a new challenge."

Gosden, who has won many top-class races in the UK and the US, including the Epsom Derby and the 1,000 Guineas, was looking for a jockey with a big-race temperament.

Unusually in one so young, Buick has just that. He benefits from the guiding hand of his father, Walter, a Scotsman who has ridden 1,500 winners and is an eight-time champion jockey in Norway, Buick's birthplace.

"He has a good head on his shoulders and is a talented young rider," Gosden said. "You just have to look at his ride on Dar Re Mi. She came to Dubai from the cold and snow in England and he only sat on her a few times. He showed a lot of intelligence on a filly he had never ridden in a race before. It was impressive."

Impressive it may be, but Buick does not dwell on past glories.

"That was last season," the rider said. "You look for the next one."

That next victory has proved a little more elusive than Buick might have hoped because of his enforced absence following the second of two falls at Meydan on December 31.

Buick rides out for Selvaratnam at Jebel Ali where the trainer has prepared horses for Sheikh Ahmed for two decades. And though Sheikh Ahmed does not go racing any more, Buick did meet his patron at the start of his contract with Selvaratnam.

"I went to his majlis and met Sheikh Ahmed there," Buick said. "I was really nervous, but I needn't have been. He is a true gentleman and very knowledgeable. He keeps a low profile but he knows everything that goes on and watches all the racing."

sports@thenational.ae

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