AIR MAURITIUS and the Racing Association have signed a sponsorship deal worth some R500,000 for The Citizen Jockeys’ International Challenge.
Larry Wainstein, chairman of the Racing Association which represents racehorse owners in Phumelela racing regions and is the driving force behind annual competition, said: ``We are thrilled to have Air Mauritius on board for this prestigious event. Both parties were keen to reach an agreement and I hope our association will continue well into the future.’’
Air Mauritius, the award-winning national airline for the popular tourist destination in the Indian Ocean, flies to 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
In other news, the five-star Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town has agreed to host the two teams during their stay in the ``Mother City’’.
This will be the Racing Association’s fourth The Citizen Jockeys’ International Challenge. The Challenge will be held over two meetings, the first on Friday 11 November at Turffontein with the finale on Sunday 13 November at Kenilworth.
A team of six Proteas captained by ruling champion jockey Anton Marcus will ride against a hot international team in eight merit-rated races. The international team will also compete against a six-man ``Rising Star’’ team in a race at each of the fixtures.
The Citizen Jockeys’ International Challenge has been won by the Proteas in all three years since its inception and Marcus and his fellow South Africans will be hoping they can extend their winning sequence.
Four South African riders have already been confirmed. The top riders on the national jockeys’ log for the previous season are automatic inclusions and Marcus will be joined by Anthony Delpech, Muzi Yeni and Felix Coetzee. The two ``wild-card’’ riders will be announced next week.
The international team will be confirmed next month because ``although jockeys like Kieren Fallon, Frankie Dettori, Richard Hughes, Jamie Spencer, Hayley Turner, Olivier Peslier, Christophe Soumillon and Ryan Moore are all keen to come, they might have commitments elsewhere’’, said Wainstein.
He added: ``Unfortunately, two of the riders are injured and their participation in The Citizen Jockeys’ International Challenge will depend on their recovery - Hayley broke an ankle a week ago while Ryan broke a shoulder in a fall at Goodwood in July.’’
Turner, who was a big drawcard at last year’s event, has enjoyed a brilliant season with 83 winners, two at Group 1 level, and is hoping the cast will be removed this month.