x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

O'Donoghue turns up the heat on rivals with a blast on board Furnace

Irish jockey takes the win in first Meydan Masters contest.

Furnace, right, ridden by Colm O’Donoghue, outlasts the field to win race three last night.
Furnace, right, ridden by Colm O’Donoghue, outlasts the field to win race three last night.

Dubai // Colm O'Donoghue emerged with maximum points from the opening skirmish of the Meydan Masters jockeys championship at the Dubai racecourse last night.

The Irish rider now goes into today's three Meydan Masters contests with 75 points after a solid win aboard the UAE trainer Erwan Charpy's Furnace.

The Coolmore stalwart, who has been associated with Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard in Ireland for 13 years, must now defend his lead from 11 of the world's best jockeys.

Chief among the dangermen for O'Donoghue is second-placed Frankie Dettori.

Godolphin's retained jockey earned 20 points yesterday thanks to his fine runners-up position on Musabah Al Muhairi's Paschendale.

Tom Queally's third on Masaalek earned him 15 points, Mirco Demuro, the Italian Dubai World Cup champion, has 10 points while the Australian rider, Craig Williams, is on eight.

"It's great to get a winner in the first race and great to be a part of this championship," said O'Donoghue, who claimed the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland Racecourse near Lexington, Kentucky, on Together in October. The horses are assigned to each jockey through a draw system and most jockeys have not sat on their rides before the race.

Charpy, who was collecting his first thoroughbred winner at Meydan Racecourse this season, said he was very pleased with the ride O'Donoghue gave his charge.

"Every one of these guys are top professionals, that's what's great about this competition" he said. "I just told Colm that this horse doesn't have a huge turn of foot but he stays very well."

Riding at Meydan for the first time, the Japanese star, Kenichi Ikezoe, who last season was the much-lauded rider of Japan's Triple Crown winner Ofevre, finished in 10th position to score three points.

Ikezoe is joined at the bottom of the table by Christophe Lemaire, the Melbourne Cup-winner, who finished last for one point while William Buick, the local favourite, was 11th.