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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 February 2021

What's it like: to win one of the last races at Nad Al Sheba

Daragh O'Donohoe, 38, claimed the 2009 Dh250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic on Fryvolous, before action shifted to the up and coming Meydan development.

I rate winning the 2009 Dubai Kahayla Classic on Fryvolous as my best day in racing. Some people wonder why, because it is a race for purebred Arabians and I have had Group One thoroughbred wins. But it was the final time that race was held at Nad al Sheba. It was also special because so many things had gone wrong for me in the run-up: actually it was a small miracle I made it onto the track at all.

The horse had a few bits and bobs going on. He had come over from the US and it took him time to settle. But Rod Simpson turned him inside out. He started finishing second to Mizzna and from there never looked back. We got beat one day by my other boss's horse, Kandar du Falgas from Doug Watson's yard. That day he was on top of his game and he beat us by eight lengths. That was the only day Fryvolous half disappointed me and I wondered if we were coming to the end of him but Rod got him in top form and he bolted up in his next three.

The main problem was me. I had more problems than a hospital. I went through five weeks of hell. I got a fall in the gate off one of Doug's horses. It flipped over me and I thought I had broken my leg, but, thank God, I had not. I came back a week-and-a-half later after missing three winners and got injured again riding one for Herman Brown. That horse ducked out at a dog, of all things, which was running on the side of the track.

He just spooked, clipped heels with another horse and I got thrown. I was OK after being thrown off that time, but I knew there was more coming. I was riding Fryvolous in a six-furlong race and the rail came undone when we were coming round the bend. We collided with it full-on into my shin and I missed another two winners. It was getting to me and it seemed every time I was due to ride Fryvolous, something happened.

Richie Mullen stepped in for me while I was injured, but I could not go to the races and watch. Rod told my wife, Jane, to wrap me in cotton wool and when the big day came I was fit. It was amazing to win at Nad al Sheba after all that. Daragh O'Donohoe, 38, claimed the 2009 Dh250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic on Fryvolous, owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. O'Donohoe is a freelance jockey who often rides for Godolphin and spends his winters in the UAE and his summers riding in Europe.

Published: January 23, 2010 04:00 AM