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Rachel Venniker is presented with a momento after winning a US$400,000 race over 2100m on the turf on the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia. The race was the last leg of the course’s 5th International Jockeys Challenge (Picture Credit: The Saudi Cup) 

Rachel Venniker rode in the the King ABdulaziz Racecourse’s fifth International Jockeys Challenge (IJC) today (Friday) and rode a fantastic race on Cliffs Of Fury to win the last leg.

The first two races of the four legged Challenge were on the main dirt track and the second two were on turf.

In the last race Venniker jumped from draw ten in the 2100m turf contest on the N Fawaz-trained five-year-old Time Test gelding Cliffs of Fury. From that difficult draw she managed to get the horse into a perfect one out and one back position early on. However, the horse she was sitting behind was battling to keep up with the leader and she made a race-winning decision to switch Cliffs Of Fury outward into fresh air just before the final turn. The gelding travelled nicely around the turn and she drove him into the lead in the straight with the hands. She gave him a smack at the 250m mark and took a two length lead. However, New Zealand rider Alysha Collett was closing fast on Prefontaine on the outside. Rachel managed to keep her mount going just long enough to hold on by a quarter of a length.


It was too little too late as far as the overall challenge was concerned because she was not in the points in any of the first  three legs, although she twice missed points-scoring finishes by just one position..

Looking at the names who were behind her in that last leg victory will make a memory to treasure even more meaningful.

Ryan Moore was in third place, Damian Olver was in fourth and the like of Maxime Guyon and last year’s IJC winner Luis Saez were further downfield as well as four times New Zealand champion jockey Lisa Allpress, who was the first lady to ever win a race in Saudi Arabia.

The overall challenge was in fact one by a lady, Maryline Eon from France. Eon won the second leg, having finished second in the first leg.

In the first race over 1600m on dirt Rachel was aboard a horse trained by five times South African champion trainer Geoff Woodruff, the four-year-old No Advantage colt Aedate. She led them into the straight and the horse made a gallant bid to stay on, but faded late to finish a 4,75 length sixth. The race was won by Colombian jockey Camilo Ospina, who has plenty of experience on the course being the retained jockey for King Abdullah Bin Abdullah Aziz Sons. Ospina came from near the back with a fast finish to score.

The second leg won by Eon was over 1400m on dirt and Rachel’s mount never travelled well in this race and finished way back.

The third leg was over 1200m on turf and was won by Luis Saez with Rachel in sixth place.

The challenge is decided on points earned by finishing first through fifth.

Eon earned the $30,000 winner’s share of the $100,000 total prize pool, although last year it was reported the jockeys also took home 15% of any stakes cheque earned. .

Camilo Ospina was second overall and Brazil’s Victoria Mota was third.