ABU DHABI // Tadgh O’Shea, the UAE champion jockey, returns to his favourite hunting ground on Sunday as he bids to consolidate his lead in the jockey championship.
The cheery Irishman won twice in four rides in Abu Dhabi’s opening meeting and followed it up with a treble a week later.
O’Shea has a ride in each of the six races on Sunday, four of which are for Ernst Oertel, the UAE champion trainer for whom he is the first-choice jockey.
O’Shea and Oertel have been successful in winning the opening race in Abu Dhabi on the last two occasions, and with Nemrah, a four-year-old locally bred filly, they are hopeful of making it three in a row.
However, the jockey-trainer combination will have their best chance of victory in the next three races with Molahen El Alhan, Sheikh Down and Swyft, in that order.
Molahen El Alhan was an impressive winner on his debut and looks set to tackle seven others over the extended 1,600m distance in the Conditions race for three year olds bred in the UAE.
Sheikh Down is another returning from a win in his last start in Sharjah, and his other career victory was over the course and distance in February.
Swyft ran an excellent race in defeat on his reappearance and should come back from that run in the 2,200m handicap, the best of the five races for the Purebred Arabians on the card.
“Ernst has done a great job over the summer to have the horses in great nick and I am very fortunate to ride them,” O’Shea said.
The concluding race for the thoroughbreds looks to be the most exciting on the card, in which O’Shea is booked on Midnight Moon, trained by Abdulla bin Huzaim.
The five-year-old gelded son of Singspiel rounded off the last season with back-to-back victories but did not place in his first start of the season, ridden by O’Shea.
“His comeback was disappointing, but he is better than that,” said O’Shea, who was on board when Midnight Moon won his last race last season.
“He took a while to hit form last season, so hopefully he needed that run and he is totally unexposed on turf after only three starts on grass [in the UK, before arriving in the UAE].”
Mulaqat, winner of the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2008, heads the weights over the 2,200m handicap rated 75-90.
A Group 3 winner in England, the 10 year old, fast approaching veteran status, joined Dhruba Selvaratnam’s stable in late 2006. He has since posted three wins locally.
James Doyle, his rider, felt he ran well enough on his seasonal return nine days ago to be in the thick of the action.
“It was a pleasing enough comeback from a horse who tends to improve from his first run, and he would have needed that outing,” Doyle said. “The distance in Abu Dhabi is ideal, so hopefully he will run well, but he is 10 now and has to give weight to some decent types.”
Doug Watson has entered Mantoba, Udabaa and Mujrayaat, and they can prove the dangers from the eight runners.
“Udabaa deserves a bit of luck around here as he was a bit unlucky a couple of times. Conditions are ideal for Mantoba and we are trying Mujrayaat over the trip after a pleasing reappearance over 1600m,” Watson said.