Pat Cosgrave, who has been based in Britain since 2004, has moved away from the UK to continue his riding career in Saudi Arabia.
Cosgrave was aboard Gifts of Gold in 2021 when the pair landed the Saudi Cup night USD$2.5m Red Sea Turf Handicap and is a winner of multiple Group 1 races in the UK, Germany and Australia, as well as being crowned Irish champion apprentice in 2003.
The 41-year-old jockey will be retained by 2022 Saudi Cup-winning owner Prince Saud Bin Salman Abdulaziz, with his first ride of the Ta’if season coming this Thursday aboard Mutantather.
On the decision, Cosgrave, who has ridden 16 winners in the UK in 2023, said: “I’d only been back from Dubai (back in March) for a couple of weeks and was approached by Prince Saud Bin Salman Abdulaziz’s team about the opportunity. I knew how successful their operation was over there, particularly given they won The Saudi Cup back in 2022 with Emblem Road, but it was a tricky time to make a decision as racing was just getting going again in the UK. I thought about it for a little while and decided it was a good thing to do. The racing, as well as other sports in Saudi, seem to be getting bigger and better every year and it’s an exciting time to be getting involved.”
“I have been going along okay in the UK,” said Cosgrave. “There were a couple of silly incidents that put me on the sidelines for a bit, but overall I was doing well, winning some decent handicaps and operating at a good strike rate. I was riding winners for the likes of George Boughey, Richard Hughes, George Baker and Jim Boyle, so things were going okay, and they were looking after me well, but it feels like the racing in Saudi is really progressing and I think it’s a great opportunity to take.”
Cosgrave’s may have won one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest races, but he’s yet to ride in Ta’if, the country’s track which is used during the hotter months due to its high altitude.
“I arrived at Ta’if for the first time on Tuesday and was then out on the track riding work on six horses this morning (Wednesday),” said Cosgrave.
“It’s a very different environment but I feel like I can adapt to it pretty quickly. I’ve ridden plenty of unusual and undulating tracks in the UK, which are more difficult to ride than somewhere like Ta’if which is a pretty flat oval-shaped track, so it should be fine. I’ve also ridden plenty of winners on the dirt in Dubai, so I’m confident I can take well to riding in Ta’if.”
Cosgrave’s first ride will be aboard the Hisham Abdulwahed-trained Mutantather, a three-year-old son of Hawkbill.
“I’ve got one ride, Mutantather, on Thursday. I went to the yard to see him and he looked good on the track this morning. He’s got an obvious chance but it looks a pretty competitive race. Fingers crossed we can get off to a nice start,” he said.
“I’ll be trying to ride as many winners as I can in Ta’if over the next couple of months, but things will probably get busier when racing returns to Riyadh in October. It should be an exciting winter with Prince Saud’s team who have lots of nice horses for the big races and I’ll just be focused on doing my job the best I can. Do that and hopefully I’ll be on some nice horses and the winners will come.”