Meet record-breaking jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who owes his spectacular career to the late Sheikh Hamdan – News
The 10-time champion thanks the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum for allowing him the breakthrough
When Tadhg O’Shea won the Irish Apprentices Championship in 1998 he had no idea his life would never be the same.
His accomplishments on the horse-loving racecourses of Ireland caught the eye of one of the sport’s most powerful and influential figures who would reward 19-year-old O’Shea with an all-expenses-paid scholarship to ride at the United Arab Emirates. during the winter season.
O’Shea embraced this unique opportunity with unbridled enthusiasm and continued to impress everyone with his skills, dedication and effervescent personality.
He would break record after record over the next 20 years while establishing himself as one of the finest jockeys to ever ride in the United Arab Emirates.
It’s his story.
The early years
From the moment you first laid eyes on O’Shea, you felt like he was different. A bundle of energy with unique driving skills; he is an incredible powerhouse in the saddle.
Picking up rides for former UAE champion coaches Kiaran McLaughlin, Erwan Charpy, Paddy Rudkin and John Sadler, O’Shea gave them their money’s worth and left a huge impression.
“The scholarship he gave me opened the door to my future and all the wonderful opportunities the UAE had to offer as a young jockey,” O’Shea said.
In 2001, he rode his very first winner in the United Arab Emirates aboard the Purebred Arabian Danidor trained by Erway Charpy.
“This win cemented my relationship with Dubai,” he said. “I could never have dreamed that I would be riding alongside talented jockeys like Ted Durcan, who was at the peak of his powers, Willie Supple, Richard Hills, Michael Hills, John Carroll and Gary Hind. “I was kind of in dreamland.”
The dream would come to life in 2008 when O’Shea won the prestigious Dubai Kahayla Classic aboard Mizzna, the same year Angus Gold, Sheikh Hamdan’s race director, offered him the pivotal job as understudy to Richard Hills, l retained stable. rider.
It was a role he would savor for four unforgettable years.
“The chance to ride for one of the greatest owners in the world was what we dreamed of and fueled my commitment and dedication to being the best jockey I could be,” he recalls.
“Riding for the big stables gave me a lot of confidence and the opportunity to ride good horses. Ernst (Oertel) has done a lot for my career and I can’t thank him enough.
O’Shea has, to date, ridden in no less than 14 countries around the world.
Driven by success
The famous jockey reached the pinnacle of his career during the 2019-20 racing season in the UAE when he entered the history books by eclipsing Richard Hills’ record of 503 winners to become the most prolific jockey from the country.
He also recorded his first success as a Group 1 Arabian Thoroughbred, thanks to victory over AF Maher in the 3rd round of the Al Maktoum Challenge and won a second Dubai Kahayla Classic aboard the same horse in 2019.
If that wasn’t enough, O’hea won his seventh UAE jockey title after a titanic battle with his good friend, Richard Mullen.
“I don’t set goals or targets because they create disappointment. The only thing I do is do my best for the trainers and owners I ride for,” O’Shea said. “It’s great to be a champion jockey, but that’s not the only thing we work for.”
He said he tries to stay healthy to be competitive. “I see so many people saying they want to ride so many horses and so many winners, but that doesn’t sit well with me. Because we’re in such an unpredictable game, you never know what’s in store for you. I’m taking it a day at a time and I’m driven by success,” he added.
More records and a historic victory
The 2021-22 season in the UAE was a landmark year for O’Shea who won an unprecedented 10th jockey title and capped the year by taking his first Group 1 thoroughbred victory aboard the Switzerland in Dubai’s Golden Shaheen on the evening of the Dubai World Cup.
“It was obviously fantastic to get into the double digits and win a 10th championship, it was very special,” he said.
“Numerically I had my best year in terms of winners, I also had the most races I’ve ever had in a season. I don’t think anyone has done more than 400 rides in a single season in the United Arab Emirates.
“My biggest dream was to put a thoroughbred winner on a big stage like the Dubai World Cup and that luckily happened with Switzerland.”
The father of the family
The family values instilled in him by his parents are very evident when you talk to O’Shea who credits his wife and two sons for all the success he has achieved.
“Everyone is behind you on the good days, it’s the bad days when you need the love of your family,” he said.
“My wife Debbie is the unsung hero because she doesn’t like glamour; she is just there for me when things are going well and especially when things are not going so well.
“My two boys, Darragh (9) and Aaron (6) are at an age where they can understand what I’m doing and they know when dad is having a good day and they also know when dad isn’t having a good day so they are good supporters.
“Without a good family behind you, nothing makes sense. I owe them everything,” he added.
Grateful to champion coaches
O’Shea has come to appreciate the support he has received from all parts of an industry where things can change from season to season, sometimes month to month.
Even the support he receives from fans is not lost on him.
“I have tremendous support from people like Bhupat Seemar, Ernst O’Ertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah. Without them, this wouldn’t happen for me year after year,” he said.
“They have all been phenomenal for my career and they deserve recognition.
“I try to give the fans as much time as possible because I know how much time and respect they give me. Every year I come back for them and I’ll be back later this year, even hungrier now at my age. 40 years old than I was when I was 20!” he signed.