Uchida completes Meydan Masters International jockey series with best third; America's Borel overall winner.
Japan’s Hiroyuki Uchida completed the Meydan Masters International jockey competition in Dubai on February 17 and 18, 2011, with a best third place in the second leg of the three-race event. Uchida’s other two finishes were a seventh and ninth in the series that was won by American jockey Calvin Borel, three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. Borel earned 75 points for winning leg 1 and 10 points for a fourth-place finish in leg 2 and 1 point for his last-place participation in the final leg for a total of 86 to give him the overall win. Uchida finished an overall seventh out of the 12 first-class international field of jockeys with 25 points in total.
Borel’s triumph came after the rules were adapted to accommodate three races in the series instead of the originally intended four. The race that had been meant to have been the third leg, the Meydan Masters Invitational on Friday, only drew eight horses, which left four of the competing jockeys without mounts. The race was nonetheless run with the eight and won by John Murtagh aboard Calvados Blues but no points were awarded any of the riders, a most unfortunate turn of events for race winner Murtagh. Uchida had piloted the Singspiel-sired Lawspeaker, 4, promisingly until the 500-meter mark but was forced to pull up 300 meters out and did not finish. Borel finished fifth in the race.
Thus, John Murtagh only earned 10 points for his fourth-place finish on Tiger Reigns in the eventual third leg, a race in which Borel tallied just a single point for his last-place finish. Murtagh would have outpointed Borel 97-94 had that leg counted. Borel scraped by overall to defeat third-leg winner Olivier Peslier 86-81 for the title with Ryan Moore third at 79.
Japan’s Uchida came in ninth in a field of 12 in the first leg, a 1,600-meter Thursday over the all-weather artificial surface, aboard the 4-year-old colt Comradeship.
In the second leg, a 2,200-meter over the all-weather Thursday, Uchida scored his best result of the three leg series, finishing third aboard the American-bred 4-year-old colt Prizefighting. Prizefighting was running under 60 kg, 1 1/2 kg more than winner Emirates Champion, ridden by Ryan Moore and 3 1/2 kg more than the runnerup Halicarnassus, ridden by Gerald Mosse. Prizefighting chased the leaders 400 meters out but failed to quicken over the final furlong.
In the final leg, an 1,800-meter turf event Friday, Uchida brought the British-bred Mac Love over the line in seventh place. Running mid-pack on the rail in a field of 12, Mac Love failed to quicken over the final 300 meters. Winning the race was War Monger under Olivier Peslier.
Uchida was upbeat about his results and expressed his appreciative for the invitation. “It was a great learning experience for me to have been able to ride with so many amazing jockeys,” Japan’s champion said modestly.
“It’s the first time I’ve been back to Dubai since 2005 and the racecourse has gotten big. It feels little different from Tokyo,” Uchida said and looked back on some of his other overseas experiences.
“I rode in the Shergar Cup in England the year before last and in the Hermes Cup in France last year, but this time, with the night racing, I got a feel for what makes Dubai racing special,” he said, adding, “I’ll be looking to use this experience to my advantage in the future.” The 40-year-old Uchida no doubt was remembering some of the harsher lessons he has learned abroad, especially following the Shergar Cup Sprint at Ascot he spoke of. Uchida had been hit with a nine-day ban for “excessive” use of the whip after finishing in third place aboard Able Master.
The Meydan Masters series this year had no sour notes for Uchida, who was asked to join the event due to his victory aboard Eishin Flash in the 2010 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby). Uchida was taking part along with 11 other top jockeys from around the world – Englishmen Richard Hills (last year's winner) and Ryan Moore, Norwegian-born Britain-based William Buick, Frenchmen Olivier Peslier, Gerald Mosse and Maxime Guyon, Italy’s Lanfranco Dettori, Irish-born Richard Hughes, American Calvin Borel and Brazil’s Tiago Pereira.
Uchida, a native of Fukuoka, was champion jockey in Japan for 2010 and currently leads his country’s riders in the new year. Though he received his jockey’s license with the JRA in 2008, Uchida began his jockey career in 1993, riding on the NAR circuit based at Ohi Racetrack in Tokyo.
In 2007, Uchida became the 16th jockey to win 3,000 NAR races and the following year moved to the JRA. That year, Uchida was leading jockey for the Kanto region and second overall. He ended both 2009 and 2010 as JRA champion jockey for wins overall. In addition to last year's Derby win, Uchida has notched a number of top-level races since debuting with the JRA, including the 2008 Takarazuka Kinen, paired with Eishin Deputy, and the Kikuka Sho, with Oken Bruce Lee. In 2009, he won the February Stakes aboard Success Brocken.
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