A trip to the UAE will be a whole new experience for Australian jockey Caitlin Jones, who is set to partner He’s A Balter at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
The 32-year-old is based at Morphettville in South Australia and took over from jockey Linda Meech for He’s A Balter’s most recent run, when the Will Clarken-trained gelding finished third in the Listed Christmas Handicap at Morphettville on Dec. 11.
That run set He’s A Balter up perfectly for the trip to Dubai, where he will be aimed at the carnival’s lucrative turf sprint program.
Jones is excited about the opportunity.
“I have never been to Dubai but certainly had it as one place to travel to in the future,” she said. “Meydan is a world-class racecourse.”
She added: “The best jockeys from around the world go to Dubai to race and it will be a privilege to be among them. I’m excited to see the training facilities and the outstanding grandstand in real life, not just looking at pictures. I want to make the most of my days by learning about the culture and the making of such a fascinating city. And, of course, meeting so many new people who all have such a passion and respect for horse racing.”
Jones has an extensive background in horses. “I was in the stables in my pram at just a few days old,” she said.
The leading rider has racked up 274 winners so far, including a pair of Listed successes. Over the past six months she has built a stronger association with the Clarken stable, which will also send seven-year-old gelding Parsifal to Dubai.
“Since becoming a senior rider, I have tried to establish a place in a few stables at Morphettville as it is very competitive,” she said.
“I would say it is only over the last six months that I have got more involved with Will Clarken’s stable and try to ride as much as I possibly can for him. Todd Pannell is stable rider for him and his team, and deservedly so.”
He’s A Balter represents managing owner Anthony Panozzo, who previously traveled to Dubai with another sprinter, Illustrious Lad, which ran fifth in the 2008 Al-Quoz Sprint. That will be the ultimate target for He’s A Balter, assuming the gelding progresses through the carnival.
“There is really only one word for He’s A Balter — gentleman,” Jones said. “He’s a pleasure to ride and to be around in the stables. He enjoys pats and cuddles, but is very genuine in his efforts out on the racetrack.”
There will be plenty of pats and cuddles if He’s A Balter can bring about a famous Aussie success for his enthusiastic connections.