Tadhg O”Shea has had the UAE riding honours pretty much to himself [nine times champion]. But this season, he has had another jockey closely nipping at his heels in the shape of Italian-born rider Antonio Fresu.
At this stage, there are only seven winners separating the two riders in the fight for supremacy, which is remarkable when one considers the facts; O’Shea rides for the leading two stables in the shape of Bhupat Seemar’s [Zabeel Stables] and Ernst Oertel’s powerful Arabian stable, owned by Khalifa Al Nabooda.
While Fresu rides for Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Oasis 1 Stables, who, while still very successful, has markedly lower numbers of horses at their disposal and therefore far less runners.
In my opinion, much of the credit for Fresu’s high strike rate could be attributed to the astuteness of his agent, Michael Adolphson, who’s prowess at studying form and cherry picking the choicest rides available, deserves much kudos.
Having spent almost 10 years as a Jockeys Agent myself, I am well aware of the difficulties faced when working with smaller numbers in terms of available mounts for your riders. But it must never be about procuring six rides every race day but selecting the ones that have a realistic chance of winning.
The great rider, Ryan Moore, once said to me, “There is no point riding a horse in a race that has zero chance of winning just for the sake of a riding fee. You make no one happy, not trainer, owner or jockey.” Wise advice that I did subsequently try hard to follow.
It does appear that Tadhg O”Shea has his 10th championship at his mercy, particularly since Fresu missed last Sunday’s final Sharjah meeting, which gave O’Shea a handy double. Though I could visualise next season jockey’s championship being a bit tighter in the race to be champion.
The author is a former Derby-winning trainer and the mother of world renowned jockeys, James and Sophie Doyle