ANDREW Nienaber, who is riding work for Mike de Kock in Dubai, realised a long held dream when landing a ride in the last race at Meydan in Dubai on Thursday night aboard the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Paschendale. He was later pinching himself when the horse powered clear to win by three lengths, reports Gold Circle’s DAVID THISELTON.
Andrew Nienaber: That’s elation! (emiratesracing.com)
The South African lightweight jockey used to be dual Equus Horse Of The Year Variety Club’s regular workrider at Milnerton and jumped at the opportunity when trainer Joey Ramsden recently asked him whether he would like to continue this role in Dubai and keep company with the big horse.
Nienaber, who had been doing most of his racing out of Port Elizabeth before departing, said, “Racing in Dubai has always been a dream of mine, so I came out here chasing dreams.”
Variety Club is being prepared out of Mike de Kock’s yard in Dubai and Nienaber has learnt something of the maestro trainer’s work ethic.
“You don’t get many days off working for Mr De Kock,” he revealed.
However, on one of his rare off days he took the opportunity to ride work for Al Muhairi, whose assistant Maria is the wife of Basil Ferreira, a former South African jockey and a friend of Nienaber’s.
He consequently landed the ride on Paschendale, although he had not ridden the horse in work.
The British-bred seven-year-old entire by Refuse To Bend was returning from a 280 day break and not much was expected of him in the 1 900m handicap on the tapeta surface, although Nienaber was told that he was a “good horse”.
Nienaber said, “My instructions were to have him in midfield and I had done my homework, so knew you had to be in the first half of the field.”
The lack of false rail at Meydan was not totally foreign to Nienaber as he has ridden a few times on the Fairview polytrack.
After breaking well, Paschendale held his rails position and down the back straight was in sixth position in the 16 horse field.
He turned for home in touch with the leaders and won the battle with a horse on his outside for a gap that had opened between the front pair.
Once Paschendale had burst through he drew clear easily and an excited Nienaber could afford to stand up on the line in a celebratory gesture.
Al Muhairi had a four-timer on the card and also provided a second UAE winner for Willie Twiston-Davies, the son of well known English-jumps trainer, Nigel.
South African fans are looking forward with great anticipation to Variety Club’s overseas debut and Nienaber had some good news.
He said, “He is very well. He’s very fresh and is coming on nicely.”
His previous association with the great horse had been way back in March last year and he added, “He is a bit more mature and I think is now a better horse.