ABU DHABI // Tadhg O’Shea has a strong chance on Sunday to consolidate his lead over Patrick Dobbs in his bid to regain the UAE jockeys title.
O’Shea has 41 wins to 37 for Dobbs after Saturday’s action in Sharjah.
With five meetings left before the season-concluding Dubai World Cup, the Irishman seems to hold an advantage over Dobbs, as four of those meetings are at Al Ain (two) and Abu Dhabi (two), in which the majority of the races are for the Arabians.
O’Shea is the first choice jockey for the powerful Al Asayl stables and will have the bulk of their best rides at the two venues.
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On Sunday, at the penultimate meeting of the season at the capital’s racecourse, O’Shea rides in all seven races and Dobbs just one.
He will be onboard five of the Al Asayl stables runners for trainer Eric Lemartinel, one for the former Al Asayl trainer and two-time UAE champion trainer Ernst Oertel, and the other for Al Rashid Al Raihe, for whom he is the stable jockey, in the solitary race for the thoroughbreds.
The race for the thoroughbreds, a handicap, is the richest prize of the card with a purse of Dh100,000.
O’Shea is booked on Deerfield. The four-year-old son of New Approach, winner of the English Derby and both the English and Irish Champion Stakes, is making a quick return after finishing 10th on his UAE debut at the racetrack last week.
“That was his first start for the yard and a pleasing one,” the three-time UAE champion jockey said. “This extra 200 metres should really suit him.”
Satish Seemar has three entered in the race and the stable jockey Richard Mullen is onboard the newcomer Wheat Sheaf.
Wheat Sheaf is having his first start for the Zabeel Stables trainer since changing hands for 60,000 guineas in the United Kingdom last October.
The bay colt by Iffraaj is a winner of one of his seven starts when trained there by Roger Charlton and he looks an interesting new recruit to the emirates.
“He is a nice, young horse who looks a good addition to the yard,” Mullen said.
“This appears the ideal opportunity to get a run into him this season. Whatever he achieves here should be an interesting prospect for next season.
Hamza secures Ruler of Sharjah Cup
The Eric Lemartinel-trained Hamza toughed out a brave win in the Ruler of Sharjah Cup, the headline race of the final meeting of the season in Sharjah on Saturday, handing owner Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and jockey Tadhg O’Shea a third consecutive victory following Abhaar last year and Molahen El Alhan in 2014.
It was hard work for the four year old, running at Sharjah and on dirt for the first time and struggling with the left-handed turns having only encountered right-hand bends in his six local starts at Abu Dhabi.
O’Shea was determined to get to the front, rushing Hamza to the early lead from where they were never headed, despite hanging off the rail on the home turn.
ES Kwashi, the Al Ain Derby winner, challenged all the way down the straight but Hamza held on grimly.
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