Tadhg O’Shea in action astride Af Makerah during the Madinat Zayed Stakes in Abu Dhabi.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Abu Dhabi turf played host to six races on Sunday and UAE champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea landed four consecutive races for a memorable four-timer, including doubles for both Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel.
Owner Royal Cavalry Of Oman and trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami were actually completing doubles when O’Shea opened his haul in a 2200m handicap aboard Jabalini, half of a pair among the ten runners who ever really seemingly threatened to win.
Ryan Curatolo was allowed to set what appeared a moderate tempo aboard Waadh, stalked by O’Shea and, until about 700m out, by Veron aboard Jeemi. Once the last named dropped away it was a duel, one O’Shea always looked likely to get the better of once his mount hit the front with about 350m remaining, despite Waadh rallying gamely for Curatolo.
Another homebred, the 6-year-old entire has now won half of his six UAE outings, including three of his five on the Abu Dhabi turf.
O’Shea is best known for his association with owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda by whom he is retained and they, as is so often the case, combined to snare the race for horses in private ownership, a 2200m handicap, courtesy of AF Abahe.
Like the vast majority of the Al Nabooda string, the 8-year-old entire is homebred and trained by Ernst Oertel.
They must have been pretty happy throughout the majority of the contest because, although nearer last than first throughout the majority of the race, O’Shea always looked confident. He edged his mount closer leaving the back straight and, though briefly denied a clear run leaving the home turn, soon found daylight and was always going to catch Fertile Du Croate, denying Ibrahim Aseel a double in the process. Al Nabooda’s horse was registering a fourth career success, but first on turf and over such a long distance. He had previously won thrice on dirt, in consecutive races, between November 2017 and January 2018.
The same connections then combined with AF Makerah in the following 1600m handicap, O’Shea riding a virtual carbon copy of the previous race, settling his mount in rear, making stealthy progress entering the home turn and leading in the final 150m or so.
The main difference was though that this time runner-up Hazeem Al Raed was clearly not in the mood to be denied, fighting back gamely under Antonio Fresu, seeking a double on the night. They battled back in determined fashion, but the head of AF Makerah was in front, narrowly, where it mattered.
Another Al Nabooda homebred, the 8-year-old mare was winning for a sixth time, all in Abu Dhabi and now has four course and distance victories to his name.
O’Shea said: "This time we had a great draw and a nice low weight, so we knew a lot was in our favour. She has shown a great attitude and, to be fair to the trainer, he has been telling me to ride her all season, but I have ignored him until now and always picked something else!” O’Shea clearly believes in the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ mantra because he used virtually identical tactics to add the finale and only Thoroughbred contest on the card, a 1600m maiden, to his burgeoning haul aboard Law Of Peace.
After breaking on terms from his high draw, Modern Games raced in mid-division down the stands’ side, with Mutasaabeq leading the 12-strong field down the centre of the course.
Now an 8-year-old, after 20 starts he has won just once, his final appearance in his native France, over 1,700m on turf, in July 2018. He joined Mohd Ramadan, making a very pleasing local debut in a conditions race over the same 2,000m as Friday’s race.
The race is held with the support of the Sharjah Sports Council with Longines as the official sponsor and media sponsorship of Sharjah TV, with the strong participation of purebred Arabian horses, local production horses and purebred hybrid horses, with a total of 75 horses.
A 9yo Dubawi gelding, he was winning for the ninth time, all in the UAE and for a third time at Jebel Ali, his previous course success having been achieved in January 2017. He has won five times at Meydan since, most recently over 1400m last April.
The championship represents a cornerstone in the foundation's efforts to enhance the sporting landscape within the vibrant Emirate, targeting key aspects of modernisation and developmental projects.
The championship attracted huge crowds, with numerous schools and universities in Fujairah sending spectators to witness the game's stars compete amidst a fantastic atmosphere.
'It was for the first time that I watched a live match played by visually challenged players and their talent has really impressed me a lot. Dubai is a hub for trade, sports and diplomacy that provides an ideal environment for such type of healthy and positive activities,” said Hussain.