Dubai: Emirati apprentice rider Saeed Al Marzoui has shed light on the added value of having a public riding school in the UAE which he strongly believes will be an asset in helping the country unearth more local jockeys.
Al Marzoui, who has reached the half-way mark to losing his apprentice claim and become a full professional, explained how an effective grooming programme will guarantee its effectiveness.
“We are desperately in need of a riding school to teach young kids how to ride,” he told Gulf News. “Horse riding looks like fun, but it is not always fun. It can be difficult and dangerous.
“At present we don’t have a proper riding school where kids can learn the basis of riding before they are 16-17, by which time they find out whether they have an aptitude for race riding should they want to pursue a career as a jockey.
“People like myself had to go out of the country to learn how to ride. It’s not always practical and effective.”
Al Marzoui also felt that a lot of Emirati youngsters were more interested in become endurance riders.
“There is a difference. Not to take away anything from endurance riders, race riding is more demanding,” he said.
“The lifestyle is demanding, the competition fierce and you have to make big sacrifices.
“It’s a tough game. You have to be very tough and very committed.”
Al Marzoui should know. He spent the last 12 months on UAE National duty where he interned with the hard-as-nails UAE army.
What did it do for him as a jockey? “I think I learnt a lot,” he says. “But the most important thing you learn in the army is discipline.
“It was hard work, waking up early, training, obeying instructions. Having to follow a tough regimen. But it was very educational.
“I think I’ve come back stronger as a jockey. Stronger physically and mentally. I find myself more hungry for success.”
Al Marzoui has ridden 35 winners, a tally he must double in order to become a full professional.
He remains undaunted by the task on hand and says with great self-assurance: “It’s not unreachable. If I get more rides, more support from the trainers, I can reach it in one season.
“I’m determined. Determined to also ride in the Carnival and hopefully even win a Group 1 race. That’s my dream. That’s what drives me. That’s what I’m in the sport for.”