Ahmed Ajtebi, 27, rose to international prominence with a brilliant Group One double on Dubai World Cup night in March, 2009.
His front-running tactics aboard Gladiatorus procured a stunning victory in the Dubai Duty Free. He then proceeded to galvanise Eastern Anthem to a narrow victory in a three-way finish to the Dubai Sheema Classic.
A United Arab Emirates national, Ajtebi is the nephew of one of Sheikh Mohammed’s longstanding friends, Saeed Manana, who has enjoyed success as an owner with the likes of Warrsan, Luso and Needle Gun.
Ajtebi started out riding camels at age seven, partnering around 200 winners from about 3,000 rides. He retired as a camel jockey at the ripe old age of 15 when his weight rose above the maximum 25kg.
Following the advice of Sheikh Mohammed, Ajtebi switched to horses, despite having never sat on one, riding both endurance and thoroughbred racehorses. In 2003, he and two other Dubai-born apprentices went to Ireland to gain experience, with Ajtebi seconded to John Oxx’s stable for four months. He returned to Dubai that autumn and had his first career ride on November 13, 2003 at Nad Al Sheba aboard the John Sadler-trained Junction Line. He was apprenticed to Ali Al Raihe in Dubai.
In 2004, he went to the Australian apprentice school in Melbourne and rode his first winner, Al Tharb, at Geelong, also for Sadler. He was fined AUS$200 as a result of his exuberant celebrations on that occasion. He also enjoyed two successful summers in South Africa with trainer Mike de Kock, partnering 19 winners from 85 rides, as well as two big victories in Zimbabwe.
In 2007, Ajtebi arrived in England, splitting his time between Bryan Smart, David Simcock and Clive Brittain. He rode six winners from 26 rides that summer before returning to Dubai where he was crowned champion apprentice for the 2007/2008 season with 11 wins.
He returned to Britain in 2008, riding largely for Brittain, Simcock and Dandy Nicholls. He became the first Emirati rider to ride a winner at Royal Ascot when partnering the Nicholls-trained Regal Parade in that year’s Buckingham Palace Handicap. Ajtebi’s success raised his profile considerably, although those to take note included the UK immigration authorities and a mix-up over his visa requirements forced a premature departure.
Ajtebi enjoyed his best ever season in Dubai this winter. Not only did he enjoy that famous Group One brace, he also reached his best ever total with 18 victories from 210 rides, making him one of the top riders in the Emirates.
He returned to Britain for the 2009 Flat season and is riding regularly for Godolphin.
Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup 2009 – Rest of the World Team Captain
2009: Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup debut
Quick Guide to the annual Shergar Cup