Former medal-winning eventer turned jockey returns from injury to make history in UAE

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  • Saffie Osborne enjoyed history-making success at Meydan in Dubai on Friday (16 February) as the first woman to ride a winner at the racecourse. She quickly followed this up with a win in Doha, Qatar, less than 24 hours later.

    Saffie, 21, gave Ouzo, who is trained by her father Jamie Osborne and owned by The Other Club, a cool ride to land the 1m1f Lord Glitters Handicap in Dubai, having returned from a spell on the sidelines last month after tearing knee ligaments in a fall at the beginning of October.

    “I’ve only been back riding three weeks, but I would’ve taken all the injuries for what’s happened in the past 24 hours, because it’s been pretty magical, and I’m on cloud nine,” explained Saffie, who, among plenty of other eventing achievements, won double gold at the Pony European Championships in 2018 before turning to racing full-time in 2020.

    “These are the days you do the hard slog for every day. It was a fairly gruelling three months on the sidelines, but these days remind you why you do it.”

    Speaking of the fact she is the first female to ride a winner at Meydan, Saffie said: “I didn’t really think about the historic part of it. It’s always somewhere I’ve wanted to ride winners because I’ve grown up watching Dad train plenty of good horses who have won there.”

    Saffie was quick to thank her father’s team, who are based in Lambourn, for her success aboard Ouzo.

    “All credit to Jimmy McCarthy, who has been out in Dubai with this horse for the past couple of months, and Dad’s team – he’s a tricky horse to get right and I’m the lucky one to do the steering today.”

    Saffie became emotional when recalling her memories of watching her father’s horses succeed in Dubai while she was growing up.

    “Ten years ago I was 11 years old, sat on the sofa watching Toast Of New York win the UAE Derby, so to be here riding winners is really special. It’s a dream come true and to get on board one and especially in the manner that he won it was really special,” she said.

    Saffie, who has ridden more than 165 winners since 2020, added victory in Qatar with Emaraaty Ana, who is also trained by her father and is owned by Barratt Racing, in the Dukhan Sprint.

    “This horse has got so much ability,” said Saffie. “He’s a really classy horse and I’m lucky to be on board him. It’s my first time riding here, so I’ve tried to do as much research as possible and talk to people about the track. He’s a horse who’s nearly won two Breeders’ Cup Sprints, he has plenty of pace and I was able to use that to our advantage.”

    Saffie’s mother Katie O’Sullivan was out in the Far East to witness her daughter’s success.

    “We have had an unbelievable 24 hours and we have just been floating through life, it is incredible and so exciting,” she said. “Saffie is doing what she loves and it is a pleasure to watch her.”

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