Maria Ritchie Will Be Just The Second Woman To Saddle A Dubai World Cup Contender

by | 03.21.2017 | 4:29pm
Special Fighter went gate-to-wire in winning the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 in 2016; in 2017, he was second in this race after a lengthy layoff.

Maria Ritchie, a 49-year-old native of New Zealand, will become the second female trainer to have a horse in the $10 million Dubai World Cup this Saturday, when she saddles the 6-year-old Special Fighter. Though the son of Teofilo was fourth in last year's edition of the Group 1 race, Ritchie has only held her trainer's license for one month, according to The National.

Ritchie has been serving as the assistant to Musabah Al Muhairi in the UAE since he took over the job training for Oasis Stables in 2003. Last month, however, Al Muhairi was sentenced to a 12-month ban for the administration of cobalt to one of his horses.

“I never thought in the UAE I would be in charge of a stables,” said Ritchie. “In the back of my mind I always wanted to train but it is very hard to go out on your own here.”

None of the staff left when Ritchie took over, though several high-profile horses did. Special Fighter, however, was not among them, and will be ridden on Saturday by Fernando Jara.

“To have a Dubai World Cup runner, one who was fourth in the race last year, is very exciting having only had a license a month and he ran well on Super Saturday,” she told Dubai racing media, referring to Special Fighter's second-place effort in Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge. “He needed that first run of the season and we just have to hope for a kind draw on Wednesday.”

Read more at The National.

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