Fradd takes Mauritius jockeys’ series, no joy for Aussies
After Australian jockeys Jeff Lloyd and Luke Nolen did not quite fire at the first day of the Air Mauritius & Attitude International Jockeys’ Weekend (IJW) on Saturday, their second and final day went even more pear-shaped the next day.
Their chances of a turnaround looked slim, with a slightly better chance for Lloyd, but they were all snuffed out after they came out halfway through proceedings.
Both Lloyd and Nolen were stood down through minor injury, but enough to force them out of their remaining rides, a disappointing outcome to the races being shown live for the first time across Australia.
Starting the day on nine points, Lloyd never got a chance to really honour his five rides after the first, Final Cup, bolted on the way to the barriers and was a late scratching. The second, Chosen Path, saw the former South African and now Brisbane-based jockey lose his stirrups and ease the horse out of the race as his saddle slipped before bailing out in the home straight.
As for Nolen, who was the only of the 12 jockeys to have not brought home a single point on Day 1, an ankle injury sustained from his fifth ride on Saturday, Kalinago, worsened as the day wore on the next day, before he could not take the pain anymore and called it quits after this third ride.
Finishing out of the placings in the three rides, Nolen ended his frustrating weekend in Mauritius without a single point. Both riders were unavailable for comment as they had left the course early after their day was cut short.
If it was of any consolation, South African jockey Robbie Fradd, who has now been plying his trade in Brisbane – same as Lloyd, the Brisbane champion jockey at the last two seasons there - since 2014, took home the title, after tying with Brazil’s Elione Chaves on 37 points, but taking the championship on account of a better seventh finish.
Robbie Fradd receiving his gold-studded whip from Mauritius Turf Club Chairman Mukesh Balgobin, picture Michael Lee
While Lloyd holds an Australian passport and could represent his new country of adoption, Fradd had yet to get his Australian nationality and therefore represented South Africa.
Fradd, who was actually a late addition after Mauritius champion jockey Steven Arnold dropped out, also went home empty-handed on Saturday, but a super hat-trick of wins on Sunday - Billy Bojangles, Dark Force and Speed Limit - for the old Fradd-Ricky Maingard firm was the key to his title.
Fradd’s current white-hot form seems to know no boundaries. The jockey’s Mauritius series triumph came within a few days of his astounding six from seven at the Gold Coast last Wednesday.
“It’s a dream come true. I’ve always held Mauritius close to my heart even though I haven’t ridden there for 24 years, and to win the title is fantastic,” said Fradd whose wife Natalie is Mauritian.
“After the first day, I was still confident I could come back. It’s like golf, you know, you only warm up on the first day, and then you go all out!
“And to win three races for Ricky Maingard was also amazing as we go back a long way. I won the 1994 Durban July on Space Walk for him when he still trained in South Africa.
“Ricky has some very nice horses and it’s a privilege to be sitting on them. He’s a very good trainer.
“It was also great to see old friends I haven’t seen for so long. So many fans came to take photos with me and also asked for autographs; only in Mauritius, you get such an experience, it’s amazing.”
One of the unknown quantities before the contest began, the Swedish-based Chaves has conquered many hearts with his three winners (Flower Blue and Chosen Dash on Saturday and Gameloft on Sunday). Even though he had to settle for second prize, he was still happy with the result.
“If I didn’t lose so narrowly on Arctic Flyer (who was actually beaten by Fradd’s Dark Force), I would have won the title,” rued the eight-time Scandinavian champion jockey.
“The horse pulled too hard down the backstraight but I did my best to control him. In the straight, he was stopping and I tried to get him going again, but Robbie got us on the line.
“I had a great time and made new friends. And the people here are so passionate about horse racing, which we don’t get in Sweden. They make me really happy to ride in such a place.”
One of the other highlights of the IJW 2017 was to see Hayley Turner make history by becoming the first female jockey to win a professional horse race in the 205 years of the Mauritius Turf Club when she won Sunday’s second-last race aboard Tanjiro.
“I first came here in 2009, and didn’t win, but to become the first female jockey to win here is quite satisfying,” said Turner.
“I sat and waited on the horse and turning in, he quickened really well. It’s amazing to win a race in front of such a public, the atmosphere is electrifying.”
The final standings are as follows:
1 Robbie Fradd SA 37
2 Elione Chaves BRZ 37
3 Maxime Guyon FRA 33
4 Craig Zackey SA 32
5 Matthew Chadwick HK 18
6 Hayley Turner ENG 18
7 Pierre Charles Boudot FRA 17
8 Swapneel Rama MAU 14
9 Imran Chisty IND 10
10 Jeffrey Lloyd AUS 9
11 Mickael Barzalona FRA 4
12 Luke Nolen AUS 0