Tadhg O’Shea is not one to rest on his laurels.The Irishman is one of the busiest jockeys in the UAE, regularly bagging the most bookings at every race meeting.
O'Shea has won the UAE jockey’s championship title a record eight times and is the all-time leading rider in the country with 555 winners, 55 ahead of his nearest active challenger, Richard Mullen.
O’Shea was booked 18 times from a possible 20 across last week's opening three meetings across Al Ain, Jebel Ali and Sharjah.
He rode the first winner of the season at Al Ain and added a second in Sharjah two days later, both on board Purebred Arabians for his main patron, Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah.
On Thursday’s opening all-thoroughbred meeting at Meydan, O’Shea rides in all six races, even though he is the second jockey to Mullen at UAE champion trainer Satish Seemar’s Zabeel Stables.
O’Shea partners four of Seemar’s horses and picks up a couple of spare rides for Jaber Ramadhan and Erwan Charpy as he bids to extend his record tally in the Emirates.
The highlight of the six-race card is the fourth race, a Conditions prize for three-year-olds that has drawn seven runners that includes three from Seemar.
Lake Causeway is the choice of Mullen; O’Shea is aboard Commanding and Adrie de Vries is atop Al Modayar.
Lake Causeway was runner-up on his first two outings at Meydan and fourth in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas before he was unplaced in the Saudi Derby in Riyadh on February 29.
Commanding won the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial but could finish only eighth in the Classic itself. He was fourth in the Al Bastakiya, the UAE Derby Trial.
Doug Watson, who saddled three winners at Jebel Ali last Friday, relies on Rio Angie, the only filly in the race, and the mount of stable jockey Pat Dobbs.
A daughter of Honor Code, she made a winning debut in a 1,400m fillies’ maiden almost a year ago before finishing third in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial over the same course and distance. She was fourth in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas.
“She is in great shape at home and working very well.” Watson said. “She had some wind surgery after her last season and that seems to have helped her.
“Obviously she is taking on the colts for the first time, but we think she will go well from a nice draw in an open race.”
Charpy saddles Spirit Of Light, one of two maidens in the field. Fabrice Veron is booked on the Dark Angel gelding who ran four times at Meydan last season, after one start in Britain for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin.
“He ran some good races last season and we think dropping to 1,400m is going to suit him, especially first time back this campaign," Charpy said. "We are very happy with him in training and we will have to see how he goes in a good little race.”