It took jockey Anthony Darmanin 18 years to land his first Group 1 and now he has set his sights internationally after being booked to ride Illustrious Lad in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai on World Cup night on March 30.
Darmanin, 36, rode Mystic Journey to win the G1 Australian Guineas earlier this month and was confirmed on Tuesday for Illustrious Lad, who he first partnered two years ago and who he rode into fifth placing in last year’s Group 1 sprint in Dubai.
“Anthony has been ringing nearly every day to make sure he was riding the horse,” managing part-owner Anthony Panozzo said on Tuesday.
“He’s really keen to ride the horse after he ran so well in the race last year. We won’t be changing anything too much from last year – the only thing is we are bringing a Group 1 jockey with us this year.”
Darmanin again rides Mystic Journey in Saturday’s $5 million All-Star Mile with the Tasmanian filly then expected to return home to spell and be prepared for a tilt at October’s $5m Cox Plate.
Panozzo said he and the other part-owners of Illustrious Lad were only informed on Monday night that the seven-year-old on son of I Am Invincible had been officially invited to take his place alongside two other Australian gallopers Brave Smash and Viddora.
“I really have to thank Frank Gabriel, the director of racing at the Dubai Racing Club and of ex-pat Neil Jennings, the handicapper, for all the work they have done in getting three horses from Australia to race on World Cup night,” Panozzo added.
Illustrious Lad has struggled for his best form of late, with just one win to his name since last year’s trip to Dubai, but Panozzo said he expected the horse to be as potent as ever when he faces the starter in the $2.8m race over 1200m.
“He loves travelling and he handles it so well and he enjoys straight racing so there are a lot of positives in that race for us,” he said.
“He ran a cracking race for fifth last year and we’re pretty confident he can go as well if not better this year.”