Tadhg O’Shea started the New Year with a splendid treble in the opening meet for 2023 at Jebel Ali on Sunday.
The 10-time UAE champion jockey rode the first winner on board Purebred Arabian AF Al Ahkaf for Ernst Oertel and in the colours of Emirati owner-breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah.
He then completed a double atop Bhupat Seemar’s thoroughbreds Rayig and Ghost Of The Mambo in the silks of Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid’s RRR Racing and Saudi Prince Sultan bin Mishal, respectively.
Three wins on the day took O’Shea’s winners for the season to 29 and left him just one short of reaching another milestone of 700 winners overall in the UAE.
AF Al Ahkaf came home a convincing winner in the opening race in the seven-race card meeting.
O’Shea had the six-year-old son of AF Al Buraq tucked behind the leaders before taking over the running from the four furlong pole to win from stable companion AF Ferstuq, under apprentice Marcelino Rodrigues, by seven-and-a-half lengths.
“To be honest I thought he would win last time but they went too fast and he weakened. Today everything went to plan,” Oertel said on his 19th winner of the season.
O’Shea added: “As Ernst said we thought he would win last time so it is great he has done it today. It is certainly a great start to the new year.”
Rayig, with an electrifying late run up the hill after a slow start, won the third race for O’Shea’s second win. He completed the treble by drawing all his might for Ghost Of The Mambo to collar Zucchini and Tolmount close home in the concluding handicap.
“That fast pace really suited him [Rayig] and he kept going when we hit the front so all credit to the horse. I guess he will come back here in a few weeks as he obviously likes Jebel Ali,” O’Shea added.
The jockey-trainer partnership of Royston Ffrench and Salem bin Ghadayer scooped a double that included the Jebel Ali Mile Prep won by Down On Da Bayou in the silks of Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
Ffrench sent the six-year-old Super Saver mare to the front from gate 4 and she never looked like being caught by the chasing pack, coming clear of Fanaar and Secret Victory by three and-a-quarter lengths and a short head respectively.
The winner of the 2020 UAE Oaks was runner-up in her last two starts and had the race well under her control as they approached the rising ground 200m from home.
“She is just lovely for a jockey as she is so genuine and tough. She loves to race like that and is then really gutsy when challenged. When she’s in front, it’s so hard to get past her,” Ffrench said.
Earlier, French and Bin Ghadayer were successful on racecourse debutant Tiger Nation, a Tamarkuz colt purchased for $110,000, also in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan.
“He has always shown plenty at home but we were drawn on the outside which is never ideal on debut but he did everything very professionally. Hopefully he can step up in both class and distance,” Ffrench said.
1.45pm: Bin Dasmal Contracting Cup – Maiden (PA) Dh50,000 (Dirt) 1,200m; Winner: AF Al Ahkaf, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)
2.15pm: Al Shafar Investment Cup – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,200m; Winner: Tiger Nation, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer
2.45pm: 2023 Cup by Emirates sprint series – Handicap (TB) Dh84,000 (D) 1,200m; Winner: Rayig, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar
3.15pm: HIVE Cup – Handicap (TB) Dh68,000 (D) 1,400m; Winner: Chosen Mark, Antonio Fresu, Ahmed Al Shemaili
3.45pm: Jebel Ali Mile Prep by Shadwell – Conditions (TB) Dh100,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Down On Da Bayou, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer
4.15pm: JARC Cup – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Carpe Momentum, Sam Hitchcock, Doug Watson
4.45pm: Deira Cup by Emirates Sprint series – Handicap (TB) Dh76,000 (D) 1,950m; Winner: Ghost Of The Mambo, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar