It’s been an amazing season, says Chavez
Former Kranji-based jockey lands Group 1 victory on Dubai World Cup Night
Former Kranji-based Panama-born jockey Oscar Chavez is certainly living it up at his new base – Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
Just last Saturday, at the sprawling state-of-the-art Meydan Racecourse on Dubai World Cup Night, the naturalised Singaporean scored his biggest success with a thrilling victory aboard Hayyan in US$1 million (S$1.33 million) Dubai Kahayla Classic.
His mount staved off a strong challenge from the Ahmad Harmash-trained and Ray Dawson-ridden Barakka by a short head in the 2,000m race on dirt.
It was Chavez’s second Group 1 triumph in Dubai.
He rode the same Majed Al Jahoori-trained and Yas Racing-owned galloper to land the US$55,000 Al Maktoum Challenge over 1,900m on dirt on Feb 3.
He has brought his winning tally to 16 (from 169 rides) since he began his Middle-East adventure in late November.
His victories also included a Group 2 and two Group 3s.
He has seven seconds, 17 thirds and 10 fourths.
Chavez moved to Dubai after his Singapore licence was not renewed for the 2023 season.
He was suspended for five months over his handling of Sousui in a Restricted Maiden race on May 14.
Besides winning the glamorous meeting’s traditional curtain-raiser, Chavez was also lucky to get the chance to pit his skills in three of the eight other mega races which attracted world-class men and horses.
He was fifth on Everfast in the US$1 million Group 2 Godolphin Mile (1,600m). But he was last in the US$2 million Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (1,200m) on Road Bloc and the US$1.5 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m straight) on Miqyaas.
To get four rides on Dubai World Cup Night, one of the richest race meetings in the world, was an achievement in itself.
It endorses the support that he is getting, despite facing stiff competition from the best in the riding ranks.
“I’m having an amazing season, I can’t ask for more,” said Chavez, who was fourth on the then Steven Burridge-trained Ip Man (later renamed El Padrino when under Alwin Tan) in the 2015 Golden Shaheen.
“It was very thrilling and, for me to win one of those races on my second Dubai World Cup Night, it means everything to me in my career as a jockey.
“It was an amazing night that I can’t exchange it for anything.
“It is a great way to cap the season and I have to say thanks to all of the owners and the trainers for the support.”
Chavez was particularly thankful to Hayyan’s trainer for retaining him for the Dubai Kahayla Classic for Purebred Arabians.
“I did not have a ride and he wasn’t sure whether I could ride him in the big race again, so he spoke to the owner and the owner said he was happy to have me back on the horse, since I knew the horse already,” said Chavez.
“He just told me he wanted me to ride the horse a little bit different from the last time – just park him fourth or fifth and wait as long as I could, because there was speed there.
“I just jumped and he put himself into a good spot, about third-fourth all the way through. I just waited for him to get a clear run.
“Once I took him to the outside into the clear, he just took off and led them by three lengths.
“But, coming towards the end, he slowed down, because he is a horse who likes to have company.
“And, when he saw the horse on the inside, he took off again and managed to hold on to win. It was very thrilling.”
Chavez, 48, said he would take a break when the Dubai season ends on April 8 to nurse a slight injury from a race fall on March 12.
“I just have a few bruises on my body, no broken bones, just some soreness,” he said.
“I’ve had a few contract offers for the new season and I will consider what is best for me.”
Chavez said the new Dubai season kicks off on Oct 27, but trackwork starts one month before that.
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