Thunder Snow's Dubai World Cup victory highlight of UAE racing season
As Amith Passela recaps 2018/19 season, which came to an end on Friday, he expects more success from Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah, who took took home champion jockey, trainer and owner titles
With the curtain having come down on the UAE horse racing season following action in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al Ain on Friday, the time has come to take stock of 2018/19.
The big winners are obvious: Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah took home the champion jockey, trainer and owner titles, respectively. But living in the collective memory of those passionate about racing would be the record-breaking feat of Thunder Snow.
On March 30, the Godolphin bay colt became the first horse to win the Dubai World Cup twice in the 23-year history of US$12 million (Dh44m) race.
His victory was a remarkable achievement for trainer Saeed bin Suroor and jockey Christophe Soumillon. While Bin Suroor stretched his record in the race for most winners by a trainer to nine, Soumillon became the first jockey to win the race back-to-back on the same horse.
Dubai World Cup Night was the high point of the season, as has been the case for many seasons in the past – not just for the racing fraternity around the world but also for Godolphin, the Dubai-based racing operation owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Meanwhile, O’Shea – who had earlier become the most successful jockey in UAE history when he went past the 504-winner mark of Richard Hills – reached another milestone on Friday. He equalled Ted Durcan’s record of winning seven UAE champion jockey titles.
“It's great and I had a tremendous year,” O’Shea said after receiving his award in the final meeting at Meydan Racecourse. “Obviously it was a great tussle [with stablemate and fellow jockey Richard Mullen] last month, and to come out on top was very satisfying.
“There are lots of people to thank, including Ernst, Khalid Al Naboodah and [trainer] Satish Seemar. It’s a big team effort and I have it easy. I just try to steer them in the right direction.”
O’Shea topped the jockey’s leaderboard with 48 winners and extended his all-time record to 511. A majority of his winners came from Oertel’s runners – 50 – in the silks of Al Naboodah – 53.
“We got a good team and hopefully keep going,” Oertel said of his five-year working relationship with Al Naboodah.
The South African, who has gained notoriety for training Purebred Arabians, now plans on taking up thoroughbreds.
“We’ll be shopping for some during the summer and also plan to cut down on the lower-grade Purebred Arabians so we can concentrate on improving the quality of the Arabians for next season,” he said.
“There is no shortage of sales [of thoroughbreds], and we’ll be visiting a few them, he added. "A couple of owners have approached me and we plan to have around 15-20 thoroughbreds.”
The final meeting at Meydan on Friday proved memorable for Connor Beasley and Ahmad bin Harmash, the pair rounding off the seven-race card by taking the last two races. The duo thereby capped a successful season, with jockey Beasley finishing on 32 winners and third overall and trainer Bin Harmash racking up 23 winners – his highest in a season.
Kuwaiti trainer Rashed Bouresly and Bahraini Fawzi Nass saddled a winner each to round off their UAE campaigns on a high, with personal best tallies of 12 and eight winners, respectively.
Bouresly’s Ajwad under Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro won the featured Nad Al Sheba Classic, the Dh240,000 Rated Conditions run over 2,000 metres on turf.
Nass won the opening prize, a maiden, with Jaarim ridden by Adrie de Vries, who completed a double on the night by steering Doug Watson’s Thegreatcollection in the Dh240,000 Meydan Mile.
Updated: April 13, 2019 02:03 PM