O’Shea goes the dis­tance

Ir­ish­man look­ing good to de­fend his UAE cham­pion jockey crown as he picks up two more win­ners in Abu Dhabi

The National - News - Sport - - FOOTBALL - Amith Pas­sela apas­sela@then­ational.ae

ABU DHABI // Slowly and steadily, Tadhg O’Shea is draw­ing clear over his near­est chal­lenger Richard Mullen in the race for the UAE jockey’s cham­pi­onship. The Ir­ish­man rode a dou­ble for two dif­fer­ent train­ers to take his tally to 34, three more than Mullen, who went win­less in last night’s six-race card at the Abu Dhabi Eques­trian Club.

O’Shea’s first win­ner was in the third race, a hand­i­cap over 2,200 me­tres, on the Eric Le­martinel-trained RB Rich Sur­prise. He com­pleted the dou­ble on Elise Jeanne’s MH Tawag in the fifth race, the Wathba Cup for pri­vate own­ers and sta­bles.

O’Shea brought RB Rich Sur­prise home with a late run, squeez­ing through an open­ing on the fi­nal 200m to win from Ja­bal Aly un­der Bri­tish cham­pion jockey Jim Crowley by more than a length.

“I didn’t have much choice. It was pretty tight,” O’Shea, who had to work his way from the mid­dle of the 13-run­ner field, said.

“Some­times he looks beaten at the back stretch. He needs some ca­jol­ing and he comes good when he gets on to the straight. “But I must say he’s very straight­for­ward and loves the Abu Dhabi track.” RB Rich Sur­prise won on his sea­sonal de­but but was well beaten in his next two starts when stepped up in class. “He’s a good horse and we were con­fi­dent of a win at this level,” said Le­martinel, af­ter the six year old by TH Richie won his sixth race in 16 ca­reer starts.

O’Shea had it much eas­ier on MH Tawag.

He took up the run­ning af­ter the fi­nal bend and held on to win from the fast-fin­ish­ing Mad­jan­this by a quar­ter-length in the hand­i­cap run over 1,600m.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful week­end with a sec­ond win­ner in three days,” said win­ning trainer Jeanne, who won the Group 1 Al Mak­toum Chal­lenge Round 2 at Mey­dan Race­course on Thurs­day.

“He’s won over the course and dis­tance more than two months ago and we were hope­ful.

“It’s not easy at this time of the year with most of the horses in top gear but he did it very nicely tonight.”

Mullen on AF Al Ja­hed was de­nied a win­ner in the con­clud­ing race when An­to­nio Fresu pro­duced a strong late run on the Er­wan Charpy-trained Cheikh Roque to pre­vail by a head as they flashed past the post,

Roys­ton Ffrench, re­turn­ing to the sad­dle in nearly two months from a bro­ken an­kle, steered Hunters Creek to a re­sound­ing vic­tory in the soli­tary race for the thor­ough­breds.

It was his sec­ond win­ner since re­turn­ing to rac­ing on Thurs­day.

Sam Hitch­cott won the opener on Ab­dal­lah Al Ham­madi’s Al Tiryaq, and Fer­nando Jara won the next on Ain Jaloot for his Grand­stand Sta­bles trainer Mus­abah Al Muhairi.

Ravin­dranath K / The Na­tional

Tadhg O’Shea rode MH Tawag, above, in Race 5 and RB Rich Sur­prise in Race 3 to the win­ner’s cir­cle last night.

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