Atzeni to replace Spencer as first rider to Qatar Racing

Andrea Atzeni

Andrea Atzeni: will begin riding as first jockey to Qatar Racing in 2015

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

ANDREA ATZENI will replace Jamie Spencer as Qatar Racing’s retained rider in 2015, it was announced on Friday evening. Oisin Murphy has also been contracted to ride from next year.

Spencer, 34, shocked the racing world on Thursday when announcing his intention to retire at the end of the season to take up a role within Qatar Racing’s management team and little time has been wasted replacing him.

“I feel very privileged to have been asked to ride as first jockey for Qatar Racing,” said Atzeni in a statement released by Qatar Racing on Friday.

The 23-year-old continued: “I am excited at the prospect and look forward to repaying the faith Sheikh Fahad and his brothers have shown in appointing me. I would like to thank all the trainers who have supported and helped me in my career, without whom I would not have received this opportunity.

“In particular, I would like to thank Roger Varian and his wife Hanako for their support. I credit Roger with putting put me on the map, through horses such as Kingston Hill. I am very grateful to Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and Luca Cumani, who have both been terrific to ride for, and to Robert Eddery, who has also been a great supporter.”

The 18-year-old champion apprentice-elect Murphy took to Twitter to express his gratitude. He tweeted: “I’m very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be a part of Qatar racing. I look forward to my role as second jockey in the coming season. I would like to thank Andrew Balding for his guidance and support during the past two seasons.”

The contract held by Qatar Racing’s other retained rider, Harry Bentley, will be allowed to expire at the end of 2014, although according to the statement, he is “expected to continue riding horses for Qatar Racing and Pearl Bloodstock.”

Reacting to the news in his Racing UK blog that he has effectively been replaced by Murphy as the organisation’s second rider, Bentley, 22, said: “I was told on Wednesday that I would not be retained as second jockey to Qatar Racing and Pearl Bloodstock from next season.

“I had been retained by Qatar for two years so to part company after that period is naturally going to take a little time to sink in.

“There has been a reshuffle, with Jamie Spencer retiring, and questions have no doubt been asked after what has been a quiet season for Qatar. These things have a habit of working themselves out, and I have no doubt that this will be for the best in the long-run.

“I am grateful for the opportunities which Qatar have offered and I still might pick up the odd ride for them next season.”

David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager to Qatar Racing, said: “With Jamie retiring and Harry concluding his two-year contract, Sheikh Fahad is delighted to have secured the services of Andrea and Oisin for Qatar Racing. He has also asked me to reiterate his gratitude to both Jamie and Harry for all of their hard work, skill and professionalism.

“Whilst Jamie comes into the Qatar Racing management team, Harry will continue to ride for us when the opportunities allow. Harry is a gifted horseman and his results for us and others over the last two seasons have more than repaid Sheikh Fahad’s faith that he is destined for the very top. We wish him continued luck and success.

“Andrea and Oisin have impressed us greatly this season and we are delighted to agree terms with them to take effect from the start of 2015.”

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