Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

History beckons for Tadhg O'Shea at Meydan Racecourse

Irishman one win away from becoming most successful jockey in UAE, but stable companion Richard Mullen stands in his way

Tadhg O'Shea has combined brilliantly with Ernst Oertel throughout the ongoing season. Erika Rasmussen for The National
Tadhg O'Shea has combined brilliantly with Ernst Oertel throughout the ongoing season. Erika Rasmussen for The National

The spotlight continues to land on Tadhg O'Shea as he bids to become the most successful jockey in the UAE.

O'Shea is booked in six of the seven races at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday in the final meeting on the track before the Dubai World Cup commences on March 30.

The 37-year-old Irishman equalled the all-time record of Richard Hills with his 503rd winner on-board the Ernst Oertel-trained Purebred Arabian AF Al Moreeb in Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

It might be a matter of 'when, not if' that O'Shea celebrates the milestone: if he does not win at Meydan on Thursday, he can do it in Abu Dhabi on Friday, or at Al Ain on Saturday.

“I’m always riding to win, and will celebrate the occasion as and when it happens,” the six-time UAE champion jockey said.

O'Shea is also chasing another record-equalling seventh UAE jockey’s championship title held by Ted Durcan but has to battle it out with Richard Mullen, his stable companion at Satish Seemar’s Zabeel Stables.

Mullen himself is a two-time UAE champion jockey. He is also the long-serving first jockey for Seemar, and obviously gets first choice on which horses to ride.

However, O'Shea has struck an excellent partnership with Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah, the leading owner for the season, in riding their Purebred Arabians.

At Meydan on Thursday, he rides debutant Zalmi Star in the opener. In the next two races, he runs atop First Down and Mazeed - both of who arrive at the race with a win each in their most recent and second last starts, respectively.

His other runs are on Mister Parma, Speedy Move and River Gold, all for the Zabeel Stables trainer.

O'Shea is on 40 winners this season, leading Mullen by two, which means the duo are likely to take the jockey’s title race to the wire.

The Meydan card is highlighted by a couple of valuable handicaps, including a 1,600-metre fixture in which the weights are headed by the Doug Watson-trained Thegreatcollection and Pillar of Society.

“Both are in very good form and should run well,” said the UAE champion trainer, who celebrated a Super Saturday double with Drafted and Muntazah. "They both have good draws and we know conditions suit them, so they should be thereabouts in a competitive race.”

Abu Dhabi offers a top card headlined by the Dh1million Group 1 Emirates Championship. It includes the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown Round 3, the UAE Arabian Derby and the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship for the thoroughbreds.

Updated: March 13, 2019 06:56 PM

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