Just Plain Breathtaking

An Update on the SA Delegation in Abu Dhabi

Top Youngster. Keagan De Melo is well prepared for Sunday’s international

Top South African apprentice Keagan De Melo spent Friday morning in a foreign land far from his home with two vastly experienced racing men plotting a battle strategy for Sunday’s HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak EARS Apprentice Jockey Race.

The counsel doesn’t come much sharper and shrewder than veteran former jockey Rhys Van Wyk and Tellytrack’s Nico Kritsiotis.

The trio viewed DVD’s of  De Melo’s mount, Af Qamoos’  last three runs, before reaching the conclusion that they had a ‘decent chance’ of lifting the winner’s trophy.

Besides the prestige and boost that goes with winning, De Melo has lots to ride for.

The announcement of a 50 000 dirhams (R120 000) total prize was made yesterday. This is to be shared amongst the first three apprentices past the line.

The South African delegation attended the press conference yesterday, hosted by a formerly well-known face to Tellytrack viewers, Derek “Tommo” Thompson from the United Kingdom.

Kritsiotis said the media event was extremely well attended and smoothly  organised with ‘lots of dignitaries from all racing jurisdictions.’

Balanced. Delphine Dubois is one of the riders who have impressed Kritsiotis. She rides Af Sanadek in the sixth on Sunday

The Tellytrack presenter was visibly impressed by the fifty amateur lady riders that are also visiting Abu Dhabi for Sunday’s meeting. They are there under the Fegentri umbrella.

Fegentri is the International Federation of Gentlemen and Lady Riders. It was founded in 1955 by a handful of enthusiastic amateur riders. The founding members were France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. Many nations have joined Fegentri since 1955 and today the membership consists of 25 different countries. The main purpose of Fegentri is to promote international races for amateur riders.

Fegentri organises two World Championships, one confined to gentlemen riders and the other to lady riders, comprising approximately 60 races run in different countries around the world. World Championship races for gentlemen-riders are run on the flat as well as over jumps, whereas the races for lady riders are restricted to the flat.

Kritsiotis said that the ladies have ridden in 9 Fegentri races around the world in 2012. The last race of the series will also be part of the Abu Dhabi card this Sunday (Race 6). The race is restricted to the riders who have ridden winners during the year.

There is an eleven strong field for the final event on the card, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) to be run over a mile.

HH Sheika Fatima Bint Mubarak has also offered an alternative to the original incentive of a Mercedes Benz motor vehicle for the winning rider. 100 000 dirhams will be paid to the first three ladies home to be shared  equally.That equates to about R80 000 each.

Brains Trust. Keagan De Melo, Nico Kritsiotis and Rhys Van Wyk at Meydan on Thursday

In addition, four lady riders from those that have made the trip to Abu Dhabi will each receive a cheque of 25 000 dirhams (approx. R60 000) each for their involvement in the series during the year. This will take the form of a random draw.

The ladies who are riding on Sunday were each presented with a piece of jewellery yesterday and the apprentice riders all received a set of cufflinks.

Kritsiotis said that they had also had the opportunity of visiting Mike De Kock’s yard on Thursday afternoon.

“We met with Mike’s assistant Trevor Brown but unfortunately, although the exported horses had arrived in Dubai on Tuesday night, they will be in quarantine until 15  November and so we did not get an opportunity to see them. We did catch up though with Ancestral Fore, Mickdaam, Zanzamar and Rerouted (Frankel’s former pacemaker before Bullet Train) whilst at the yard,” he said.

Breathtaking. Meydan labelled as breathtaking by Kritsiotis

Kritsiotis said that the Meydan Racecourse facility was ‘absolutely superb’.

“The grandstand is extremely overwhelming and the whole experience had Raymond Rogers and David Thiselton gasping for breath. We were allowed unfettered access to the parade ring and managed to sneak in a few interviews on their opening night of racing for the 2012 -13 racing season.”

He added that today (Friday) was a rest day and their next engagement was early Saturday morning when Keagan De Melo would be riding some track work.

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