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One step at a time the way forward for Cosgrave

Author: DUANE FONSECA

23/11/2017
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The view might be a fine one looking down from the summit, but Pat Cosgrave is not about to get complacent and relax as the early leader of the UAE Jockeys’ Championship. “There is a tough group of riders out there trying to win the title,” Cosgrave told Al Adiyat at Jebel Ali last Friday after he stepped down from the podium following another post race presentation. “They are very keen on fighting for the Championship and there are a lot of good jockeys out there who can win it, so it is a very competitive race, but it’s a lot of good fun too riding here at this level of competition.”

Trained by Helal Al Alawi, Sea Skimmer had just shed his maiden tag with a dominant four length success in a 1200m sprint with Cosgrave aboard. It was his seventh overall winner for the season and also the second of the afternoon on the six race card, following up on his earlier success aboard Gafel, also trained by Al Alawi, in a maiden for Purebred Arabians. Cosgrave is presently three clear at the top of the Jockey’s Championship from last season’s runner-up, former champion Tadgh O’Shea, after securing his eighth winner of the campaign the following day at Sharjah when Rockmane, also from Al Alawi’s stable, edged Daana in another Purebred Arabian maiden.

And while Cosgrave has been thoroughly enjoying this early run of luck, he is definitely determined to keep his feet rooted firmly to the ground. “It’s been good so far and I’m just lucky to be riding for Helal and his team, Godolphin and other people in the UAE, so I’m really enjoying it at the moment,” said Cosgrave, whose first double success of the season was attained on Meydan’s opening night with the Al Alawi-handled Rothenburg and the Godolphin runner Naaeebb, schooled by Saeed bin Suroor. “I’ve made a good start and hopefully it continues. It’s hard to keep the momentum going sometimes when you get such a good start because you are bound to endure a slow spell somewhere down the line, but I hope that does not happen soon because it’s a very competitive championship fought here.”

Cosgrave has three Group 1 level wins to his credit. He first won the 2008 Nunthorpe Stakes aboard Borderlescott and then claimed the 2010 Haydock Sprint Cup riding Markab. His last success at that level came aboard Society Rock in the 2011 Golden Jubilee Stakes at Ascot. Cosgrave is yet to taste big race success in the UAE, but the 35yo knows all about how competitive things can get, having won in the Emirates for the first time on the Anthony Manuel-handled Etihad on 28 November, 2010, in Abu Dhabi in his first season of riding here. That 2010/11 season yielded 11 winners from 154 mounts before Cosgrave recorded 18 and 11 winners over the seasons that followed.

The 2013/14 season, in which he partnered ten winners, turned out to have an unhappy end, and saw him being banned from riding in the UAE by the Emirates Racing Authority (ERA) after stewards found him guilty of improper riding aboard the Mike de Kock-trained Anaerobio in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at Meydan in 2014. Cosgrave was accused of moving away from the rail running into the home stretch and allowing stablemate Vercingetorix, ridden by Christophe Soumillon, enough space from where the latter mounted an assault and won comfortably. Cosgrave was handed a six month ban, which was later reduced to four, but made a return to riding in the UAE only last season after negotiating a deal with the ERA and paying the regulatory body for costs incurred.

With his named cleared from the ERA’s Forfeit List, Cosgrave made a relatively successful comeback, recording 11 winners, 6 seconds, 11 thirds and finished among the other prize money places a further 17 times. All that emerged from a mere 97 rides in the two and half months he rode. With that water under the bridge, Cosgrave is keen to focus his energy on enjoying his time racing in the UAE winter yet again. “I first started to ride here about seven years ago. It’s a great place to ride because of the facilities and horses so I love coming back,” he said. “Racing is getting bigger and better every year with more trainers arriving and the local trainers are getting stronger too.

It’s getting more international in terms of Television exposure going out across the world. The prize money is increasing too and is great, so it’s hard not to enjoy riding here. “I haven’t really done a full season in the UAE and this really is my first full season, but I rode for about 10 weeks here last year and rode 11 winners. This time I am here at the start of the season and hopefully things will be better.” The 35yo Cosgrave had modest ambitions starting the season and has a mantra that will sound familiar to his rivals.

“I’m taking it one win at a time,” he claimed. “I was looking merely to start well, to keep the owners and trainers happy so that means try and ride as many winners as possible. “That’s what I am doing at the moment and hopefully it keeps going. As long as I keep everyone happy and keep myself safe and sound, things will go well.” Cosgrave should know best.

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