McLean sets sights on international career after world-class triumph

NIKITA McLean is eyeing an international career after becoming the toast of Arabian horse racing with a memorable victory in the Middle East early yesterday.

McLean, competing for $A25,000 (20,000 euros) won the opening leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) at Al Fulaij racecourse in Muscat, Oman.

Representing Australia against 11 other amateur and professional female jockeys, McLean accounted for her rivals from the USA, Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar in the 1600-metre race.

The former Warrnambool jockey, who has continually proved her competitiveness against male riders in Australia, won the 2007 group 1 Emirates Stakes on the 100-1 outsider Tears I Cry.  

She was proud of adding another significant achievement to her impressive resume.

“It’s a great thrill to come to the other side of the world and ride a winner,” she said.

“I’ve got to rate the win up with the victory of Tears I Cry in the Emirates Stakes. It’s been a very busy few days. I hope the win puts my name up on the world stage. I would love to ride in England or Ireland.

“I’ve won a big trophy and I’m not sure how I will get it home. I was also presented with a lovely bracelet. 

“I had a good start into the race after drawing barrier  seven. I ended up winning the race by three lengths.”

The 25-year-old jockey said she had been already invited back to ride in next year’s race. The Victoria Racing Club will play host to a heat of the 12-race series at Flemington on April 25. The final will be run in Abu Dhabi in November.

McLean had hoped to ride Magapal for Stawell trainer Terry O’Sullivan at Flemington today but she will fly back into Tullarmarine early tomorrow.

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