Author: Stephen Molyneux

NO DOUBT YOU are all sick of hearing about virus, lockdown, cancellations and everything associated with the horrendous state of our world right now so with the season officially brought to an end last Sunday, it is time to recognise those who have lit up our truncated and at times disjointed racing season. CHAMPION JOCKEY – Tadhg O’Shea, for an eighth time, and in truth rarely in doubt given the remarkable consistency the Irishman enjoyed. A week wouldn’t go by without a winner and a happy knack of picking up spare rides, including carnival ones, stood him in good stead throughout the campaign. The only disappointment was O’Shea being denied a deserved first ride in the Dubai World Cup.

CHAMPION TRAINER – Satish Seemar, for a sixth time, but remarkably his first since 2006/7. There was certainly a quantity factor at play here with Seemar having over 100 runners more than Doug Watson and 63 more than Ernst Oertel but what that shows is a forward thinking stable that has embraced the new era of private owners. Wafy, Emblem Storm and Tuz would all have been big players on Dubai World Cup night whilst injury denied Gladiator King and North America genuine chances in their respective races so there is a depth of quality to now go with the quantity. CHAMPION OWNER – Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, for a third time, although it was a closer run thing this year with 33 winners compared to the 53 last season.

By Ernst Oertel’s own admission there wasn’t as much strength in depth amongst the maidens this campaign but Oertel’s ability to get the best out of every horse under his care ensured his main patron would be in the winner’s enclosure on a regular basis. All this without AF Maher as well who failed to make it to the track. CARNIVAL CHAMPION – Look no further than Charlie Appleby who enjoyed another remarkable season, his tally of 20 winners from 70 runners coming at very high strike rate given multiple runners in some races and who is to say he wouldn’t have matched his 24 from last year had World Cup night gone ahead. He dominated the Group races in particular and the highlight of most carnivals in recent years has been his willingness to run his stable stars at Meydan. Long may it continue.

MOST IMPROVED JOCKEY – Antonio Fresu continues to get better and better in my opinion, but he is now firmly established in the ranks over here so doesn’t quite qualify for this. Szczepan Mazur does though and he gets the nod having posted 19 winners looking increasingly stylish as times goes on. He enjoys the strength of the Ibrahim Al Hadhrami stable who did very well and has struck up a good partnership riding the second strings for Musabbeh Al Mheiri. His ability to ride light is another asset and he could well carve out a decent niche for himself over here. REVITALISED STABLE – Revitalised is perhaps pushing the point to a degree but Musabbeh Al Mheiri will have enjoyed a lot of what he has seen in 2019/20. His tally of 25 is still some way short of what he has achieved in years gone by that saw him land a trainers’ championship, but it was his best for a few years and more crucially he seems to have some nice horses for next year.

LUCKY OWNER! – Look no further than Nasir Askar who recorded 12 winners, many with new horses that he has brought to Dubai. Describing it as lucky is merely a figure of speech as you can’t enjoy that much success simply by being lucky, indeed you could describe it as bad luck that World Cup night didn’t go ahead as he would have been three handed with Military Law, Secret Ambition and Wafy. All of this as well with relatively cheap purchases so fair play to Askar and no doubt he will be looking forward to the opportunity to replenish the stocks ahead of next season. So that is basically that for the 2019/20 season, a strange campaign to say the least with surface issues at Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi, races run behind closed doors and ultimately the postponement of the biggest one of all. There are more important things at times though to racing, however much we rely upon it to take us away from the daily grind. Racing will be back, make sure you are, too, so stay safe over the summer and let’s look forward to welcoming a more straightforward 2020/21 campaign.

Stephen Molyneux
Dubai Racing Channel

A Positive Spin On A Weird Season