x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Jockeys race too close to call

It is tight at the top of the jockeys' championship, with the battle between Tadhg O'Shea and Royston Ffrench boiling down to the last four meetings.

DUBAI // It is tight at the top of the domestic jockeys' championship, with the battle between Tadhg O'Shea and Royston Ffrench boiling down to the last four meetings of the season. Success at Jebel Ali Racecourse today could have a major impact on the final standings, which will be decided after the World Cup meeting at the end of the month.

Just two wins separate O'Shea, who is Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's second jockey, and Ffrench, who is attached to the in-form yard of Ali Rashid al Raihe. Godolphin's Frankie Dettori has already tied up the Carnival title with 13 wins - well above the second-placed Christophe Soumillon's eight. Yet while the Carnival championship covers six weeks of racing, the UAE title stretches the entire season from November 6 to March 27.

"It's pretty close alright," said O'Shea yesterday, who has high hopes of a big run from his ride, Alsadeek in Jebel Ali's final Listed race of the season - the Jebel Ali Sprint. "It's come down to the last few meets of the season." O'Shea, who has 32 wins, makes no secret of his desire to claim the championship, but whatever happens over the next two weeks he will be happy with his performance. "This has been my best UAE season by far," he said.

Race card

"I really couldn't have asked for more." Alsadeek, who is trained by Doug Watson, is a threat in the sprint. He has winning form over five furlongs at Jebel Ali and was the runner-up in December to 2009 Sprint winner, Hammadi, who also races today. Hammadi - who is also trained by Watson - will become the second horse to win the race twice in its 17-year history if he is successful. "I thought he was a bit unlucky when we finished second to Hammadi," said O'Shea who did not get the best draw on that occasion. "He's one of the most improving horses at Jebel Ali this season and I'm looking for a big run." Jerry Barton's So Shiny, the 2009 UAE 1,000 Guineas winner, comes into the race after claiming a handicap at Meydan this season and Mike de Kock saddles last year's runner-up, Frosty Secret. @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae