x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mullen out to bridge the gap on O'Shea in UAE jockeys' championship

Rides My Special J's in the UAE Oaks, where Godolphin saddle four of the nine runners in a bid for fifth win in the last six years of the race.

Richard Mullen rode Unbridled Ocean to victory at Meydan Racecourse last week. Christopher Pike / The National
Richard Mullen rode Unbridled Ocean to victory at Meydan Racecourse last week. Christopher Pike / The National

It would be a delicious irony if Richard Mullen won tonight's UAE Oaks at Meydan Racecourse aboard My Special J's.

Mullen lies just one winner behind Tadhg O'Shea, who is suspended for tonight's action, in the UAE jockeys' championship and will line-up in the 1,900m Classic on the filly that O'Shea has ridden in her two starts in Dubai.

What is more, Mullen rides Across The Rhine, who is also owned by Jimmy Long, in the turf handicap over 1,400m. O'Shea rode the seven year old when eighth to Mushreq in the Al Fahidi Fort last week.

Across The Rhine is stabled with Satish Seemar, and Long felt that Mullen would be the logical person to turn to in the absence of his retained rider.

"Tadhg and I are great friends and he played a big part in me getting the ride on My Special J's," Mullen told The National from Qatar where he was fourth behind Muntasar on Al Anga in the Qatar International Trophy last night.

"Zabeel Stables gave him a winner with Al Razi earlier this season at Jebel Ali so he probably owes me one!"

Mullen had one hand on the title in the 2003/04 season when he was neck and neck with Ted Durcan, only to be denied by a count back. Durcan rode three more second-placed horses.

"The title hasn't been on my mind this season," said Mullen. "Champion jockey in any country is a great honour but for me it is all about riding winners for Satish and Zabeel.

"Paul Hanagan is only five winners behind Tadhg and has the powerful patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid behind him.

"Wayne Smith is there also so there are four of us who can win it. There is a month to go, though, so a lot can happen. It's exciting."

My Special J's looks to face a difficult task in the Oaks with Godolphin set to provide four of the nine runners, all of whom turned out in the 1000 Guineas won by Lovely Pass three weeks ago.

Mahmoud Al Zarooni has long felt Lovely Pass was his primary three-year-old filly at Marmoom stables for the Dubai World Cup Carnival but her victory in the first Classic of the season was hardly conclusive.

She was perfectly placed by Ahmed Ajtebi to take advantage of a desperately slow pace and went on to deny Saeed bin Suroor's Shuruq by half a length.

Al Zarooni's Music Chart, who won the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial was back in third, with Bin Suroor's Mar Mar in fourth.

With Mike de Kock's Emotif still short of full fitness, it seems Godolphin are set to maintain their stranglehold on the race which they have won in four in the last five years.

"Both of mine have come out of the Guineas well and have shown they handle the all-weather," Al Zarooni said.

"Hopefully they will stay the trip and be competitive."

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