Rachel Jets Off To Take On The World

Former dual South African champion apprentice Rachel Venniker flew out on a Qatar Airways flight on Monday evening accompanied by her Mom Marian on the first international adventure of her short but scintillating career.

Excited at the prospect of competing against some top international opposition, Rachel is bound for Saudia Arabia where she will participate in the Invest Saudi International Jockey Challenge trophy to be run over four races at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Friday evening.

An excited Rachel and Mom Marian Venniker just before they boarded their Qatar Airways flight on Monday evening (Pic – Supplied)

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).

The Jonsson Workwear sponsored Rachel, on her first trip outside the borders of South Africa, told the Sporting Post that she had been given plenty of encouragement and a briefing from her long-time mentor and boss, Michael Roberts, and was ‘excited more than nervous’.

“It’s an honour to get the invitation and win, lose or draw, I plan to make the most of this great opportunity to meet new people and experience different track conditions,” she told the Sporting Post just prior to flying to Doha, where they will have a short layover, before travelling to Saudi Arabia.

When asked why she had opted to take Mom Marian, a smiling Rachel said that her parents had walked the long road and made the sacrifices for her, and she was happy to take her Mom with as a manager and supporter.

“I haven’t travelled overseas, so am thankful to have Mom with me as a travelling companion. I hope to get some track work in this week and our rides are all between 57kgs and 60kgs, so I could even enjoy the liberty of sampling the local cuisine,” added SA’s only female jockey, who goes to scale at 52kgs.

Rachel will be coming up against six fellow lady riders, including last weekend’s international record-breaker Saffie Osborne, 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.

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