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