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Super Saffie Set For Friday

This girl is on fire!

While our own champion Rachel Venniker flew out to Saudi Arabia on Monday with a confidence-boosting victory under the belt at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday, there won’t be a jockey brimming with more adrenaline than Britain’s high-riding 21 year old Saffie Osborne, who enjoyed a career defining international 24 hours last Friday into Saturday.

Saffie Osborne – form rider as Friday approaches

A stellar evening of eight top-class races on the opening night of Saudi Cup weekend at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Friday is headlined by the world’s top jockeys – seven men and seven women – competing for the Invest Saudi International Jockey Challenge trophy over four races.

The IJC forms part of the meeting of the Saudi Cup, now the world’s richest horse race with a purse of $20 million (R380 million). The visiting jockeys will be chasing prize money of $100,000 (R1.9 million), with the champion on the day banking a cheque of $30,000 (nearly R570,000).

Rachel and Saffie will be facing fellow roses France’s Maryline Eon, the US’s Katie Davis, Australia’s Alysha Collet, Victoria Mota, the 24-year-old daughter of top Brazilian jockey Alex Mota, and New Zealand’s Lisa Allpress, who starred in 2020, when she became the first female to win a flat race in Saudi Arabia.

The male riders are headed by defending champion Luis Saez, and include Ryan Moore, Damien Oliver, Maxime Guyon, Ryusei Saka, Camilo Ospina, and Adel Alfouraidi.

A daughter of former national hunt jockey and now trainer Jamie Osborne, Saffie added victory in Qatar with Emaraaty Ana in the Dukhan Sprint on Saturday to her feat of becoming the first female jockey to ride a winner in Meydan on Friday.

Saffie (centre) with Hayley Turner and Hollie Doyle after winning the Shergar Cup in 2023 (Pic – Supplied)

Her Saturday victory followed a history-making success at Meydan on Friday when she produced a spectacular ride on the inside rail on Ouzo, also trained by her father, in the Lord Glitters Handicap.

After a recent return to race-riding following a fall in October, she said that she had only been back riding three weeks and pointed out that it’s difficult when a rider has been out all winter because others have slotted into positions on the all-weather that she would’ve probably been in.

“But I would’ve taken all the injuries for what’s happened in the past 24 hours because it’s been pretty magical, and I’m on cloud nine,” she said after a memorable weekend.

Saffron Rose ‘Saffie’ Osborne was born in April 2002 to equine artist Katie O’Sullivan and trainer and former National Hunt jockey, Jamie Osborne.

Much like our own Rachel Venniker, Saffie grew up around horses and competed in eventing and won six medals at pony, junior and youth European championships.

A highlight of her eventing career was winning individual and team gold in the 2018 FEI European Pony Championships at Bishop Burton with Little Indian Feather, a former rescue pony from Ireland.

After leaving school in April 2019, Saffie worked at the yard of Aidan O’Brien for four months and then over the winter gained experience with Gai Waterhouse in Australia.

She started as an apprentice jockey in 2020, riding her first winner, a horse called Hot Scoop, trained by her Dad, at Windsor on 27 July 2020.

In 2021 she was runner-up behind Marco Ghiani in the apprentice championship, in spite of having to take two weeks off in July after she sustained a leg injury in the starting stalls at Newmarket.

In 2022 Saffie was crowned Racing League leading jockey. She achieved her first Group race win in October 2022 while still an apprentice, riding Random Harvest for Ed Walker in the Gr3 Premio Elena e Sergio Cumani in Italy.

In November 2022 she won the November Handicap at Doncaster on Metier, trained by Harry Fry, and later that month rode out her claim with her 95th winner.

During her first season as a professional jockey in 2023, the 21 year old won the Chester Cup on Metier, while Random Harvest provided her with her first British Group race success in the Gr2 Valiant Stakes.

Saffie, who is a Grade 5 pianist, is very proud of the fact that she was a member of the winning ‘Girls’ team in the 2023 Shergar Cup, the first time she had participated in the event.

Saffie at home (Pic – Supplied)

A no-nonsense young lady, thanks to growing up with three brothers, Saffie labels herself a shopping addict in her life away from the saddle.

She is on record saying that the best compliment she has ever received is being told that she rides ‘like a boy’.

“I have been told that by a few people. I don’t want it taken the wrong way,” she adds.

She is a dog lover and her Jack Russell, Biscuit goes everywhere with her.

Her favourite karaoke song is Rapper’s Delight -us veterans remember The Sugarhill Gang classic from the 1970’s.

“For some reason I can rap the whole seven minutes of it. One of my brothers can do it as well,” she laughs.

Her favourite childhood memory is winning the Lambourn Show lead rein class when she was four or five.

“I remember it was a cool week because my Dad had two Ascot winners. I still have the trophy. It’s in my dad’s office with some other trophies.”

She says that the best advice she has ever received is work hard and don’t believe your own publicity.

“That’s from my Dad. My Mum says ‘don’t let failure derail you’.”

If Rachel doesn’t win the IJC on Friday, we’d love to see the likeable Saffie lift the cup!

You can watch the action on Gallop TV and 4Racing TV!

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