JOCKEY Andrea Atzeni is aiming to end the season positively as he chases down 100 winners to cap what has been another good year.
He has five rides on the Racebets-sponsored card at York on Friday, including the talented UAE Prince for his boss, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid.
We spoke to Atzeni about his chances of victory, his weekend riding plans and caught up on how things are with some of his other big rides.
You have a busy day on Friday, starting off with UAE Prince in the Racebets Money Back 2nd 3rd 4th Handicap (2.40). Do you think he can build on his good run last time?
He’s a horse we’ve always liked. He’s got a lot of ability and ran a good race last time in the Cambridgeshire. He’s not the easiest horse to win with as he has a high-cruising speed and travels well through races, but doesn’t like to be in front too early. There’s definitely a big race in him and there’s a good chance that’ll be on Friday.
Canford Heights is your ride in the Racebets Handicap (3.50). Can he land the hat-trick?
He’s won his last two and was very impressive at Haydock. I’m doing my bottom weight to ride him and it’s worth doing that because he looks a really progressive horse. He stays well and must have every chance.
Island Of Life returns to action in the 5f handicap (4.25). Can she get her head in front?
She’s been consistent and hopefully the wind operation and cheekpieces will eek out that little bit extra from her. She has to be ridden ‘cold’ and produced late as she can be sluggish from the stalls. Hopefully we’ll get a bit of luck.
What do you make of Felix in the novice stakes (5.00)?
He’s carrying a penalty and giving weight away is never easy. That said, it looks a winnable race and he won cosily the last day at Yarmouth.
Your final ride of the day is Equitation in the 6f handicap (5.35). Will he send you home on a winner?
Equitation is Equitation. He wouldn’t have a lot in hand, if anything, but he’s consistent and usually runs his race.
Where are you in action on Saturday?
I’m riding at Woodbine in the EP Taylor Stakes and the Canadian International. I ride Sheikha Reika in the EP Taylor. She was very good in a Listed race last time and while this is a step up in grade, we feels she’s worthy of her place. Desert Encounter run in the Canadian International and his trainer David Simcock has done very well at this meeting before. The horse has run good races all season.
Last weekend you were abroad too, riding at Longchamp on Arc weekend. How did you feel it went for you?
It was a good weekend, Saturday in particular with Group 2 wins on Princess Yaiza and Ostillo. Ostillo was particularly good to win on and is an exciting horse for next year. It was great for the boss [Sheikh Mohammed Obaid] and hopefully he can step up further next year. Unfortunately, Defoe didn’t run his race in the Arc. That said, it was great to see Enable win the Arc again and for Frankie [Dettori] to win it for a sixth time was incredible.
The last time we saw the exciting Willie John was in France. How is he after that below-par performance and where might we see him next?
I’m not sure what plans are for him but he’s in good order. In France last time the ground was very soft and he’s a top of the ground horse. He has very small feet and couldn’t go through it. If the ground is okay he may run again, if not he’ll be put away. He’s a very talented horse and hopefully he can show that next year.
We are nearing the end of the Flat season. How has it been for you?
Numbers-wise it’s been really good. I’ve ridden more winners than last year and would love to get to 100 winners for the season. In terms of races it would be winning the Goodwood Cup again on Stradivarius. He was brilliant.
And, finally, there have been some huge sums spent at the bloodstock auctions in Newmarket this week. What have you made of it all?
My boss has been up there this week and is spending some big money on new horses, which is exciting. You always hope among them is going to be a star and I’m very lucky to be in a position to ride them. But you know what it’s like, just because you’re paying a lot doesn’t guarantee they’ll be good horses. Hopefully they will and there be some nice ones in there.