Roberts takes on top job with Sheik

SOUTH African jockey Michael Roberts has landed the lucrative Sheik Mohammed job that Irish champion Mick Kinane rejected last week.

Currently on holiday with his family on his 1,000-acre farm near Johannesburg, Roberts is set to return to Britain to take up his new position next month.

Roberts, 38, is the current British champion, landing the title for the first time with 206 wins, and becoming only the second jockey in 40 years to reach a double century on the Flat.

The announcement that he is to succeed Steve Cauthen came as no great surprise in racing circles, considering that only he and Kinane looked to be the likely contenders once negotiations had broken down with the American.

One of Sheik Mohammed's aides leaked news of Roberts' appointment to the Racing Post, the Sheik's newspaper, and official confirmation from Dalham Hall, the owner's lavish Newmarket base, seems a formality.

Roberts, one of the hardest workers in racing, and among the best judges, should be an asset to the Sheik. Going to scale at a comfortable 108 pounds, he rides 14 pounds lighter than Cauthen and thus will be available for many more rides than his predecessor.


He had only 26 rides for Sheik Mohammed last year, with most of his success coming from the stables of champion trainer Richard Hannon and the Newmarket wizard Clive Brittain.

However, Roberts' retainer since he returned to ride in Britain has been for Alec Stewart, the trainer who handled Mtoto, the star middle-distance galloper of the late 1980s.

Mtoto carried the colours of Sheik Ahmed Al-Maktoum, younger brother of Sheik Mohammed.