Tadhg O’Shea's bid for an unprecedented 10th UAE Jockey’s Championship title received a boost on Monday after he rode a double at Abu Dhabi to reclaim a four-win lead over nearest challenger Antonio Fresu.
Fresu closed in on O’Shea’s lead after the Italian rode six winners across two meetings at Meydan on Thursday and at Sharjah on Saturday to take his tally to 26.
There is still a long way to go in the season but the jockey’s title race appears to be between O’Shea, who moved on to 30 wins, and Fresu, with Patrick Cosgrave on 12 in third in the list.
O’Shea produced AF Ghayyar with a well-timed run to win the third race and completed the double when he made all on AF Musannef, both trained by Ernst Oertel and in the silks of Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah.
“He is a really nice horse and he’s very genuine,” O’Shea said. “He took a good position and like the previous winner he’s a homebred. It was a good double for the stable.
The double took Al Naboodah’s tally to 15 in the UAE Owner’s Championship, three behind leaders Al Ajban Stables.
“He’s a fantastic man to ride for and he lets you do your own thing. We are very privileged to wear his colours,” O’Shea said of his main patron Al Naboodah, the leading owner/breeder of Purebred Arabians in the UAE.
Cosgrave took the concluding prize for the thoroughbreds on Ranchero to take Bhupat Seemar’s tally to 22 as the Zabeel trainer moved to the top of the trainer’s chart.
Cosgrave tracked the leaders and then led on the home turn to win from the fast-finishing Al Salt under Sandro Paiva by three quarter lengths with Nibras Passion a further three quarter length down in third.
“We thought all three were with a chance and Ranchero delivered it for us on the night,” said Seemar, who had a trio entered for the solitary prize for the thoroughbreds.
“He arrived with a pretty good record from the UK, having won one and placed second thrice in four starts. He wasn’t beaten very far on his local debut at Jebel Ali and he seemed to have come from that run.”
Fernando Jara produced a well-timed run on Jean-Claude Picout’s Shamakh to take the opening handicap.
Jaber Bittar made a successful return to training after more than six years when Dane O’Neill drove Daad to victory half an hour later in the maiden for fillies bred in the UAE.
Sandro Paiva, on Gold Silver, took the fourth race to get one across for the Sudanese trainer Ibrahim Aseel.