x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Jockey O'Shea content to concede in search of bigger gains

The champion UAE rider has won only one in 26 rides since changing stables.

Tadhg O'Shea was the UAE champion jockey last season.
Tadhg O'Shea was the UAE champion jockey last season.

Tadhg O'Shea has all but ruled out a defence of his UAE jockey's title ahead of tonight's racing at Meydan Racecourse.

O'Shea partnered 37 winners in the region last season, two more than when he was the champion during the 2009/10 campaign.

Last year almost half of his mounts finished in the top five, but this season the Irish rider has entered the winners' enclosure only once from 26 rides.

"Will I be champion jockey here in Dubai this year? Probably not," he said.

"It is important for a jockey if they haven't won it. It states your claim that you are the best in the business.

"Of course if I get to February and I am within striking distance of the championship I'll give that a huge effort but I have a different job now."

O'Shea has been recruited to be Jimmy Long's stable jockey after parting company with Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid this year.

The Irishman rode more horses than any of the riders in the top 10 last season to grasp the title, much as he had done two seasons previously.

He has a young family and it is easy to see why his focus has now shifted to riding at the highest level during the imminent Dubai World Cup Carnival, rather than scraping for every mount going at the four tracks in the UAE.

"I had a lot more horses for the local season when I worked for Sheikh Hamdan," he said.

"We had handicappers running everywhere every single week and we were winning a lot of races and for that I am very grateful to him. I've been champion in Dubai twice but I am looking to bigger and better things.

"Mick Kinane [the former jockey] told me when I was a kid that you have the 10 best years as a jockey in front of you when you are 30, and I've just turned that age."

O'Shea partners Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa's Capital Attraction tonight in the feature Dh90,000 handicap run over 1,600m on a six-race card at the flagship racecourse.

He is up against Dane O'Neill, the jockey who took his place as second rider for Sheikh Hamdan, who has four runners among the 11-strong field.

O'Neill rides Tanfeeth, while also in the blue and white silks will be Sam Hitchcott on Redemptor, Harry Bentley on Mutajare and Pat Cosgrave on Maqaraat.

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