Tadhg O'Shea has revealed what the next chapter in his career will hold after it was announced this week that he will no longer be the retained rider for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.
The Irishman is the reigning UAE champion jockey after he partnered 37 winners to wrestle back the title he lost to Wayne Smith in 2010.
He was a key component to helping Sheikh Hamdan become the champion owner last season but after four years as second rider the pair parted company on Wednesday.
"I am going to be retained by owner Jimmy Long at Thistle Farm in County Kilkenny, Ireland," O'Shea told The National.
"He will have around 60 horses and I will be his first jockey. It's an exciting venture for me and means I can move back home."
The Long family have had numerous runners in Dubai over the years, with the most famous perhaps being King Jock, who won twice in Abu Dhabi six years ago and who ran at Meydan Racecourse in 2010.
If memory of the horse escapes you it will not be long before the name Thistle Bloodstock Limited, the registered owners of the horses, starts to roll off the tongue, according to the 30-year-old jockey.
"Sixty horses is a good start but things are going to get a lot bigger," O'Shea said. "The facilities are mind blowing. We plan to run a lot of horses at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and around the world. We are not afraid of taking on the best."
O'Shea flew to Ireland last week to finalise the deal and to have a look at the training operation that is run by the rookie trainer John Patrick Shanahan. The horses that come to Dubai are likely to be trained by Erwan Charpy, who has a long association with O'Shea and the Long family.
Shanahan has run 17 horses in Ireland this season, with My Special J's in line for a tilt at the Prix Marcel Boussac on Longchamp's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe card on Sunday. It is perhaps a sign of what is to come, and O'Shea will take the ride in Paris.
The American-bred juvenile has progressed with every run but failed to build on her victory in a Group 2 at the Curragh in Ireland when last in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes last month.
"She was disappointing in that race but is a very nice filly," O'Shea said. "I sat on her last week so I'm hopeful of a decent run."
O'Shea was considered the most likely jockey to succeed Richard Hills after Sheikh Hamdan's first rider officially retired on World Cup night. The English champion jockey Paul Hanagan was handed the role instead.
Sheikh Hamdan cherry-picked O'Shea after he became the champion apprentice in Ireland, aged 19. He paid for O'Shea to come to Dubai to ride for the likes of Charpy, Paddy Rudkin, John Sadler and Kiaran McLaughlin. It was not until 2008, however, that Angus Gold, Sheikh Hamdan's racing manager, came calling.
"Sheikh Hamdan has been tremendous to work for and has been extremely supportive to my career. When available I would still love to continue riding for him."
CIRRUS DES AIGLES READIES FOR FRANKEL
Corine Barande-Barbe is once again using the Qatar Prix Dollar at Longchamp in France on Saturday as a springboard for Cirrus Des Aigles as the Dubai Sheema Classic victor gears up for a crack at Frankel later this month.
The six year old was second in the extended nine-furlong event last season before going on to score in England’s Champion Stakes, the race at Ascot earmarked for the world’s best horse.
Cirrus Des Aigles has not run since May when he finished second to Golden Lilac in the Prix d’Ispahan. He suffered a leg injury and skin problems and was subsequently disqualified after a prohibited substance was found in his system.
“He came back into serious training at the end of August,” Barande-Barbe said. “He is in good shape and will run well at Longchamp. He needs racing. Usually horses going to Dubai, very often they have a rest. Cirrus had his rest a bit later and now he is ready to go. He has been working well.”
The trainer did not appeal against the disqualification but an investigation is underway as to how a “massive dose” of an anti-inflammatory entered the horse’s system before the race.
Barande-Barbe has taken the precaution of installing a CCTV system in her yard and the result of the inquiry will not be known until the end of the month.
Cirrus Des Aigles was declared yesterday for the Dollar, alongside Chinchon, the 2010 Dubai Sheema Classic fifth who won this season’s International Cup in Singapore.
Other notable entries in the nine-runner line-up include Princess Haya’s Colombian and Green Destiny, the one-time Dubai World Cup favourite owned by Ramzan Kadyrov.
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