UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea set to reach milestone of 700 winners

The 10-time UAE champion jockey is booked on 15 rides across three meetings at the weekend

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Dec 19  – 2019 :- Tadhg O’Shea (no 4) guides Secret Ambition (GB)  to win the 5th horse race, Dubai Creek Mile, 1600m dirt at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Amith
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When Tadhg O’Shea finally calls it a day, he will have a couple of records in the UAE that will be very hard to surpass.

The Irishman has already won 10 UAE jockey’s championship titles since beating the record of seven of the now retired Ted Durcan.

O’Shea, 40, is also out on his own as the all-time leading jockey with 699 winners in the UAE. His closest challenger Richard Mullen, 46, the longest- serving jockey in the UAE, is on 563.

The champion jockey has three meetings at the weekend to achieve the milestone either at the opening meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Friday, Sharjah’s fixture on Saturday and a regular meeting at Meydan again on Sunday.

“Success breeds success,” O’Shea told The National of his achievements during his 22 years riding in the UAE.

“I’m very fit and enjoying it better than I've ever done. That happens with confidence. When your confidence is up, the gaps seem to come easier.

“Things just happen more naturally unlike when you are chasing something, or if you are a bit under pressure or you are not handling pressure, well these things don’t happen.”

O’Shea has four rides in the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Friday.

He rides AF Alajaj for Ernst Oertel in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 for Purebred Arabians and three thoroughbreds – Law Of The Sea, Switzerland, and Secret Ambition – for Bhupat Seemar.

“The carnival is very competitive, and if I could achieve that milestone on the night would be a dream,” O’Shea said when asked if he could reach the target.

He rides two of his favourite thoroughbreds at the carnival – Switzerland, on whom he won the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen for his first Group 1 win on the Dubai World Cup night.

And Secret Ambition, winner of the Group 2 Godolphin Mile, also on the Dubai World Cup meeting in 2021.

“They are possibly my two best rides and they are also the two oldest horses in their respective races,” he said of Switzerland, 9, and Secret Ambition, 10, entered in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes and the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge, respectively.

“They are both showing all the signs at home that they are training well. Obviously the races are very competitive and they are both having their first runs in the season.

“There are lots of good horses out there coming with race fitness. It’s not very easy but they are very good horses.”

Another champion jockey’s title also appears to be well within O’Shea’s reach as he heads the season with 29 winners, 10 more than his closest challenger Antonio Fresu.

Tadhg O'Shea after his victory on Switzerland in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan racecourse on March 26, 2022. AFP

“We certainly hope so,” he said of an 11th championship crown. “We’ll be trying very hard. The main thing is to stay healthy and obviously you need the horses.

“I’m fortunate to ride for two very good stables, Zabeel with the thoroughbreds, and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah with the Arabians.

“We have had a great start to the season. I never really think of the championship until around February but of course I know I’m in front and it’s time to kick on now.”

O’Shea began the second half of the season on New Year’s Day with a treble with a winner for Al Naboodah and two for the Zabeel Stables trainer Seemar, that took his overall tally to 699.

“It’s always nice to start the New Year with some good results,” he said of his first meeting for the year at Jebel Ali.

“I had seven rides and came off with three winners and a third, and more importantly the winners were for my main patrons.

“It’s important for me and it’s important for them, and it’s important for the stables that I get the results for them to have that faith in me.”

Updated: January 05, 2023, 2:45 AM