By Duane Fonseca
Tadhg O’Shea opened his account on the second day of the 2019/20 UAE racing season by winning Friday night’s feature event at Abu Dhabi, but the defending UAE Champion Jockey knows he has his work cut out after finding himself third early on in the race to defend his title.
O’Shea trails early leader Connor Beasley, who has won thrice so far, and Antonio Fresu and archrival Richard Mullen, who are locked at second with two wins apiece. Beasley, Fresu and Mullen each were on target yesterday and added to their opening night wins at Meydan on Thursday.
O’Shea was twice denied at Meydan as he notched two second place finishes among other results, but he was smiling after winning Friday’s feature Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Prep over 1600m with the Eric Lemartinel schooled RB Torch.
RB Torch was also Lemartinel’s first winner for the season and he led in a 1-2 for the French handler, who saw Jose Santiago ride in a length behind on Darius Du Paon. Ibrahim Al Hadhrami trained and Szczepan Mazur ridden Jaser was third, a further half length behind.
The Abu Dhabi card hosted a total of five Purebred Arabian contests and concluded with a lone event for Thoroughbreds that was contested over 1600m and won by the Salem bin Ghadayer trained Mailshot whose late turn of foot under Royston Ffrench helped him win by a length and a quarter from Native Appeal trained by Doug Watson and ridden by Sam Hitchcott. Satish Seemar’s King’s Shadow took third, a nose behind, under Xavier Ziani.
A 1400m Purebred Arabian maiden got things underway, with Beasley and trainer Helal Al Alawi combining to land the spoils with Alnawar, who finished a neck ahead of the Lemartinel trained and Fabrice Veron ridden Darya, whose stable companion Thamer was a length and a quarter behind in third under Jesus Rosales.
Last season’s champion trainer Ernst Oertel scored in the second PA maiden on the card, which was also run over 1400m. Noel Garbutt won the race for the South African handler aboard Raniah, who placed a length in front of Al Alawi’s Bolereau ridden by Beasley. Ana Mendez schooled Shawall, with Mullen in the saddle, was third, a further length and a quarter in arrears.
Mendez’s disappointment was short-lived though and it was her turn to make a trip to the winners’ enclosure in the following race after Mullen scored with Saarookh in the 2200m handicap for Purebred Arabians. An intense battle saw Saarookh finish a neck ahead of Lemartinel schooled RB Grynade ridden by Veron. Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Alhaan Al Reef, in the hands of Beasley, was back in third by a head.
The penultimate race of the night, the 1600m Wathba Stallions Cup for Private Owners was won by the Elise Jeanne trained MH Wari, who carrying Antonio Fresu, placed a length and a quarter ahead of AF Athabeh, trained by Oertel and ridden by Garbutt. In third place, a neck behind was AF Alareeq, trained by Al Hammadi and ridden by Mazur.