RIYADH: Jockey Victoria Alonso, who hails from a heralded sporting dynasty, will be the second Spanish female jockey to compete in the International Jockeys Challenge at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh on Feb. 24, the opening day of The Saudi Cup meeting.
The 20-year-old, who has 55 career wins to her name, finished sixth in the Spanish jockey rankings last year and comes from a family of sporting excellence, both in professional football and horse racing.
Six members of the Alonso family across three generations have played professional football, with three of them representing the Spanish national football team, while they have also played for Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid at club level.
Her cousin is ex-Chelsea and current Barcelona defender Marcos Alonso, while her father, Cesar Alonso, played football for Rayo Vallecano before turning to racing, first as an amateur jockey and then as a trainer.
She said: “I am very proud to be continuing my family’s involvement in top-level sport. Not only are most of them professional footballers but they are all big fans of horse racing and proud of me. I follow their achievements, as they do mine.
“All my family are aware of what I do in horse racing, and I have their full support. Both my parents will be there (at The Saudi Cup).”
After being confirmed as a participant in the IJC, she said: “Riding in the IJC at The Saudi Cup is a dream come true. I really want to savor this great experience riding against the world’s best jockeys and am ready to give it everything that I have. I want to thank all those people who have made it possible.
“The experience is going to be very exciting and totally unique on a professional and personal level, and I hope that it will launch me and give me some great international exposure,” she added.
Alonso has experience of riding on both dirt and turf in Spain and France and has been praised for her ability to judge pace from any position in the field.
She said: “I have continued to learn, picking up a lot of experience both in Spain and France. I am happy to have finished in the top six jockeys in Spain, even though I had less rides than any of the other top 10 jockeys.”
She joins Delphine Santiago as the latest jockeys to be confirmed for this year’s IJC. French jockey Santiago, the fourth female rider to be announced in this year’s IJC line-up, has forged a successful career in her native France that has seen her crowned the country’s leading female jockey on 10 occasions. Alongside Alonso, she joins Frankie Dettori, Chantal Sutherland, Joao Moreira, and last year’s winner Caitlin Jones in taking part in the 2023 running of the event.
The International Jockeys Challenge features four handicap races, each run for $400,000, with a further $100,000 prize fund for the challenge itself.
The jockeys are made up of seven international female riders, five international men, and two local men with the jockeys receiving 15 percent of prize money won in each of the four races.