Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 January 2020

Tadhg O'Shea happy to be heading for another record

Irish jockey is leading the championship again after surpassing all-time winners mark

Tadhg O’Shea is enjoying another succesful season. Pawan Singh / The National
Tadhg O’Shea is enjoying another succesful season. Pawan Singh / The National

Tadhg O’Shea is enjoying another record-breaking season and the Irishman is already in pole position to achieve a second milestone in as many years.

O’Shea is heading the UAE jockeys championship race with 16 winners after riding a double at Sharjah on Saturday. He is now three ahead of his closest challenger Pat Dobbs.

He has equaled the now-retired Ted Durcan with seven jockey’s titles and if crowned champion this season, he will be out on his own as the most successful jockey in the UAE.

Last season, O’Shea reached the milestone by surpassing the all-time record of 503 winners in the UAE held by Richard Hills. He has improved this number to 527.

O’Shea, 37, insists he never sets himself any targets but enjoys the success he has had over the years since arriving to ride in Dubai for the first time in 2001 as reward of becoming the Irish champion apprentice.

“Racing doesn’t work like any other job and my main aim and hope is to stay healthy and in one piece,” O’Shea reflected.

“My job is to ride winners and if records come my way I truly cherish and enjoy. I never would have imagined I would be riding so many winners when I first arrived in the UAE. I have many wonderful people to thank on my journey.”

His wife Debbie and his two sons Darragh (9) and Aaron (6) are O’Shea’s biggest fans and the inspiration behind the man.

“I ride out every morning around 4.30am,” he explained. “So, while many people think of the glamorous and social side of Dubai, plenty of hard work goes into it every day.

“Eating properly is very important too and Debbie would have made a fantastic dietitian, she makes sure I have a healthy diet.”

O’Shea is in demand as always. He is fully booked in all six races tonight at Abu Dhabi’s six-race card that include five races for the Purebred Arabians and a solitary prize for the thoroughbreds.

The highlight of the meeting is the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship for three-year-old Arabians and a valuable thoroughbreds’ handicap for horses rated 80-95.

In the two feature races, O’Shea rides the Ernst Oertel-trained newcomer AF Majalis in the Listed race and is on board Nicholas Bachalard’s thoroughbred Ashwass who is returning to the track for the first time in more than 27 months.

“AF Majalis has been going nicely at home,” the UAE champion jockey said. “He is ready for his debut and the team have chosen this spot to start him off after, which we will know a lot more about him.”

The Abu Dhabi Championship has drawn the maximum 16 and looks to be a hot race in which Omani trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami has a strong hand with trio entered spearheaded by Ihtesham.

A winner of her only start, she is the choice of the stable jockey Szczepan Mazur, who also rode Marmara XM, also a prolific winner of her only start.

Musabah Al Muhairi’s Avez De Pine arrives from the UK with a fine record. The AF Albahar colt has won four of his five starts for his local debut and looks like one to take note of.

Updated: December 21, 2019 05:13 PM

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