O'Shea will ride for Jebel Ali and top Arabian Breeder Khalid Al Nabooda
22 October 2019, UAE ~ Seven-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea will be joining a new team when the new season commences on Thursday at Meydan Racecourse. The fan favourite will start his 2019-20 tenure wearing the predominately yellow silks of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and receiving a leg-up from the master of Jebel Ali Stables, trainer Nicholas Bachalard.
“A lot of illustrious names have ridden in those silks and I feel privileged to have been approached by Nicholas Bachalard and (racing manager) Mohammed Al Shahi and be offered the position,” O’Shea said. “Jebel Ali obviously has some new horses this season, some promising 2-year-olds from American breeze-up sales and some old timers, so it’s a great opportunity.The (new training track) rides really well and it’s a beautiful facility there where they have the options to train on the track or up the hill.
“It’s a new yard and new season for me, my weight is good and I feel great,” he continued. “I’ve been very lucky to ride for some tremendous owners and trainers and I approach it without any goals, really. First and foremost, I want to stay in one piece and then I’d like to ride in as many races as I can.”
Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda ended the 2018 season with 53 Wins
And that he will. In addition to his contracted job with Jebel Ali, he will maintain his notably fruitful relationship with 2018-19 champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, whose phenomenal Purebred Arabian operation ended the season with 53 wins—19 more than second-placed Godolphin. O’Shea exits a seventh championship season in which he won 48 races and earned nearly $2 million in prize money, topped by a brilliant ride on Al Nabooda’s AF Maher in the Group 1 $1 million Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup day. Said victory was his second DWC night win, having also won the Dubai Kahayla Classic in 2008 with Mizzna.
“You ask an Arabian; you don’t tell them.”
“While Sheikh Ahmed has the Thoroughbreds, Khalid has Arabians and, touch wood, it hopefully works out well and is going to keep me busy,” he said. “The Arabian is part of Dubai and people of Dubai’s culture. It’s exciting and (Al Nabooda’s trainer) Ernst Oertel likes to keep me fit. The hardest thing with Ernst’s runners is often picking the right one in a race. “I was told this way back in the beginning and it stuck with me,” he continued. “You ask an Arabian;you don’t tell them. You humour them because they’re very clever and usually more intelligent than the Thoroughbred. You have to get inside their brain and let them feel that they have the upper edge; in a way they’re in control. AF Maheris ultra-straightforward and easy to ride. He’s a kind horse. When we put him on dirt, he showed he’s a true class act and was able to use his huge stride and great will to win.”
In the end, it is easy to see why O’Shea is the most successful UAEjockey of all time. Able to be affable and analytical, while concurrently relaxed and resilient is a balanced skill amalgam that is, appropriately, both innate and intended. The father of two appears just as focused-yet-self-effacing as always while embarking on a new chapter and season.
“It’s back to zero with a new season starting,” O’Shea concluded. “I’m riding for two very powerful men in Sheikh Ahmed and Khalid and I just want to do them justice and justify their faith in employing me to ride their horses. I cannot thank them enough for their confidence and loyalty.”
Photo: TADHG O’SHEA (Dubai Racing Club|Neville Hopwood