x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

O'Shea double boosts his chances of jockeys' crown

Tadhg O'Shea wins the Group One Liwa Oasis on El Rigoletto to complete a superb double at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

ABU DHABI // Tadhg O'Shea, chasing his first UAE jockeys' championship title, won the Group One Liwa Oasis on El Rigoletto to complete a superb double at last night's meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. O'Shea led the Gillian Duffield-trained five-year-old to the front on the furlong marker and finished a neck in front of last year's winner, Doug Watson's Quaolina, ridden by Richard Hills.UAE Non Stop, under the Argentine Jesus Rosales, ran a extremely well to take third.

The President's Cup winner, Jarnin, faded to finish 10th in the 12-runner field. Richard Mullen, who rode the gelding to win the President's Cup, went for the whip midway through the seven-furlong race. O'Shea said of El Rigoletto: "He stuck his head out and battled on well. He wasn't the fancied one to win but he was the best horse on the night." El Rigoletto's victory took Duffield's tally to 21 winners, six more than Saifaldeen Deeb, in the trainers' championship for Purebred Arabians.

O'Shea won the second race, the Al Khazna Conditions for fillies and mares, on Jaci Wickham's Waneessah W'rsan. The Irishman, who leads the jockeys' table with 32 winners, said: "She was a shade unlucky on her two previous starts and was well fancied by the trainer. She produced a fine turn of foot when I kicked for home and won very well." O'Shea's closest challenger, Royston Ffrench, cut O'Shea's lead to one by claiming the concluding event, the only race for thoroughbreds, on Five Cents. O'Shea was second on stablemate Dahes.

Naseem Al Reef provided a first Emirates Colts Classic prize for the trainer Eric Lemartinel. He was a game winner over the favourite Najem Al Khalij, ridden by Ffrench. The seven-times champion jockey Ted Durcan had Naseem Al Reef tucked behind the favourite for much of the trip before stepping on the gas on the final furlong to win by half a length. Safwan al Reffai, on the Samir Hawaa-trained RS Sanjar, came from the back of the field to take the opener, the Al Mina handicap over 11 furlongs.

The Emirati trainer Bakhit al Ketbi's Taj Al Reef, under Wayne Smith, came with a strong late run to win the Al Wathba Stud Farm prize, a maiden for UAE breds. apassela@thenational.ae