By Jon Lees
Japan: Saudi Arabia’s men v women international jockey challenge has lost one of its major draws after Japan’s Nanako Fujita was injured in a fall.
According to reports from Japan, the rider broke her right collarbone in four places while she was riding at the Kokura race meeting on Saturday.
Fujita, 22, was riding a horse called Ransom Trap in a 1m1f maiden race, the fifth race on the card, when she came off mid-race near the rear of the field.
The @FujitaOfficial twitter handle reported she would have to undergo surgery and hoped to return within three weeks.
Fujita joins Saudi champion, the Panamanian Wigberto Ramos, who suffered a broken wrist last week, in missing the unique event.
Organisers announced on Sunday that France’s Coralie Pacaut will replace Fujita and local rider Camillo Ospina step in for Ramos.
Fujita is Japan’s only licensed female rider on the main JRA circuit. She competed in the Shergar Cup at Ascot last summer and in December became the first female jockey to ride a Graded winner in Japan when she won the G3 Capella Stakes on Copano King at Nakayama. She has ridden seven winners in 2020.
The Kingdom Day STC International Jockeys Challenge, staged on the eve of the running of the world’s richest race the $20 million Saudi Cup on Friday February 28, will be competed by an all-star line-up of riders, seven men and seven women.
Frankie Dettori heads a men’s team which also includes Ryan Moore, Yutaka Take, Olivier Peslier and Mike Smith.
The women’s team comprises US-based Sophie Doyle, Nicola Currie from Britain, Germany-based Sibylle Vogt, Canada’s Emma-Jayne Wilson, French rider Mickaëlle Michel and New Zealand champion Lisa Allpress.
The jockeys’ challenge, the first of its kind to be held in Saudi Arabia, is held over four races of an eight-race card and will be decided by a points based system.
Jockeys will ride locally trained horses in races staged on the dirt course. The challenge carries a prize fund of $400,000 while the overall winning jockey stands to land a further $30,000 winner’s purse.