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Clarken Racing | Clarken Racing News 53101 Jones Journey From Penola To Riyadh

Jones' journey from Penola to Riyadh

Jones' journey from Penola to Riyadh

Nearly a week on from shining the brightest under the lights of Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz Racecourse, Caitlin Jones admits she's still on a high from taking out the International Jockeys Challenge last Friday.

Jones received a last-minute call-up for the event and quickly made the dash across from Dubai - where she'd been caring for Will Clarken's horses - to Riyadh to compete against the likes of fellow Aussie Glen Boss and international stars Christophe Lemaire, Hayley Turner, Joel Rosario and Jim Crowley.

"It's still pretty overwhelming, as in everything happened really quickly and the trip was very short there, I was in and out, back to Dubai very quickly because I had the two horses of Will's to continue to look after and work on the Saturday," Jones said.

"I certainly indulged in the moment and celebrated on course there alongside Glen Boss and some of the other female riders like Sam Collett, Ulrika Holmquist, they were really happy for me, but the celebrations were short, we had some dinner afterwards and then I was getting my stuff and getting back on a plane back to Dubai.

"I've been inundated with support, messages, and phone calls, it's really been really humbling, I've done my best to get back to everyone. It's been a surreal thing."

After the success of one Middle Eastern mission, Jones is back to her original mission in Dubai, attending to the Clarken duo Parsifal and He's A Balter, who she's been looking after throughout their Dubai World Cup Carnival campaigns.

The South Australian will ride Parsifal in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (scheduled for 11:45pm AEDT) at Meydan's Super Saturday meeting this weekend in what is a dress rehearsal for Dubai World Cup night at the end of this month.

Parsifal has had two runs in Dubai and finished third in the G2 Blue Point Sprint at his latest effort.

"He was super in the Group 2, both he and Balter were obviously only a neck apart, finishing third and fourth," Jones said.

"I'm excited, it's obviously going to be a pretty tough race. Man Of Promise, who actually won Parsifal's race the first time he stepped out here, is in the field.

"On his last start, Will changed up a couple of things, he put the blinkers on, he probably still stepped a fraction slow, so I'll be on to that a little bit more, try to get him to step away a little bit cleaner.

"I think they'll certainly put some good pace in it, which'll be suited to Parsifal and keep him smothered up and then hopefully he's doing what he did last start and really coming through and hitting the line, back out over 1200m again also.

"Parsifal hasn't missed a beat; he's eating really well and he's bright and he's happy. There's no excuse going forward into Saturday other than it's obviously a tough class of horse we're up against but if he continues to run as well as he has, I think he'll be within the top four finishing."

WATCH: Parsifal and He's A Balter's most recent run in Dubai

A strong performance from Parsifal on Saturday night could see him receive an invitation to run on World Cup night in the US$1.5 million G1 Al Quoz Sprint, which has been won in the past by Aussie sprinters Ortensia and Buffering.

Jones also noted that He's A Balter was nominated to run this weekend but suffered a minor setback and won't race as a consequence.

Nevertheless, she's rapt with the results that the two horses she's been entrusted with have produced and has relished the experience she's had in the United Arab Emirates.

"It's an incredible place to be, Dubai," Jones said.

"I'm so glad I took the opportunity from Will Clarken; I'll be forever grateful for him even asking me to take the job here and I've certainly done it with no regrets. It's been a whole different experience, the way that they do things here, the horses have really thrived.

"They've both run incredibly well over here, it's tough and you come up against Godolphin pretty much every time you go around and they're extremely hard to beat.

"Full credit to Will and his decision to bring them over because it certainly hasn't failed, he's really happy and content with the whole success of the first time of being over here and I'm sure you'll see him back here."

Riyadh and Dubai are many thousands of kilometres away from where Jones' journey in racing started in the South Australian town of Penola, where her love of racehorses came from riding work for her father.

After finishing school, Jones made her way to Victoria and rode on the picnic circuit before eventually becoming a professional jockey in her home state.

"I think if I look back now and say what I've been able to succeed and do, especially coming out internationally and riding and then being able to win the International Jockeys Challenge, I think all my grounding for that comes from where I started," she said.

"I know that has a lot to do with my upbringing, I had a wonderful upbringing by my parents, they've always encouraged myself and my brother to chase our dreams, no matter how much I think it scares my mother a little bit!

"I was always infatuated with horses; I was involved with them very young.

"Mick Kent getting on to me to get my amateur licence, the passion just grew even more for it, I was able to take that next step to becoming a professional and with the help of Michael O'Leary, kicking off my apprenticeship.

"It's been a fantastic journey, but I think all those steps along the way have certainly got me to where I am, and I've always believed in having to work for everything you get.

"Racing can be very tough, it can be very ruthless at times, but when it has these moments, you know that it's absolutely truly worth all of that and the celebrations that you can have out of it and the success that it does give you.

"I'll certainly be forever humbled for being able to make it across the other side of the world and succeed, it's certainly something I'll take a lot of pride in for the rest of my life probably."

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