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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Harrison marks return to race-riding in Qatar with a winner

Kelly Harrison: returned to the saddle on Wednesday with a winner
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Kelly Harrison is no longer an ex-jockey and made a winning return to the professional ranks at Al Rayyan in Doha on Wednesday, when guiding the Bustawi Ismail-trained Al Gomry to victory. 

Harrison, who rode 123 winners in Britain in a 13-year career before retiring in May 2013, started working in Qatar three and a half years ago.

However, she has left her job as racecourse secretary and judge for the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club to return to her former vocation - although as yet she has no plans to try to revive her riding career in Britain.

"I've been coming out here for a few years now so know the racing quite well, the opportunity came up and I felt I had to take it," said Harrison, 32.

"For my first ride back to be a winner was fantastic, but the day after was more of a reminder as to how things actually are as I finished nowhere in two maidens."

Harrison, who split Dale Gibson and Michael Hills when second in the 2014 Leger Legends race at Doncaster, has not set herself any targets, continuing: "It's all very new and I'm just trying to get my head around it.

"We'll see how things go here but at the minute I probably won't try to ride again in Britain. It's quite attractive riding here. It's two days a week [Wednesday and Thursday], there's no travelling and it's three times the prize-money. It's much more difficult to get opportunities in Britain.

"The season runs from November until April, a bit like in Dubai, so I'll come back and ride out for William Haggas through the summer, but it's fun and it's a nice place to be during the winter. I've not set any goals, it'll just be full guns blazing until the end of the season and we'll see how I get on."

Not only has Harrison got a new job, but in less than two months she will also have a new surname.

"We get a week off at the beginning of March so I'm getting married [to former British-based rider Jean-Pierre Guillambert] in Thailand," she said.

Harrison's soon-to-be husband was instrumental in her return to the saddle.

"JP works for Jassim Mohammed Ghazali and he suggested I should come back," she explained. "When you get an opportunity like this with the champion trainer you just have to take it."

When you get an opportunity like this with the champion trainer you just have to take it

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