Omani jockey Al Baloushi
Omani jockey Saif Al Balushi winning Dr Hussain Habib Al Redha Trophy, sponsored By Shadwell aboard Al Suhooj at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday. Image Credit: ERA

Dubai: Omani apprentice Saif Al Balushi said his dream is to ride in the Dubai World Cup Carnival after excelling to win the inaugural running of the Dr Hussain Habib Al Redha Trophy Sponsored By Shadwell aboard Al Suhooj at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday.

A victory that would, in normal times, have triggered celebrations by both jockey and trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi, was marked with quiet optimism - given the hosting of race meeting with strict social distancing guidelines in place to ensure the safety of all present.

However, Al Balushi, 25, was delighted to secure his first winner of the UAE season in a race that was being held in honour of a legendary patron of the Arabian horses, Dr Al Redha.

“It’s great feeling to win a race like this,” said the mild-mannered Omani. “I have heard a lot about his pioneering work with the treatment of horses. So it makes it even more special.

Horseracing - Jebel Ali
Mirza Al Sayegh, Chairman of Derrinstown Stud, with Royson French and representative of the owners after the prize presentation at Jebel Ali. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche/Gulf News

“I don’t get too many chances to ride good horses but winning is a great feeling and my goal is to ride as many winners as I can to become a full-fledged jockey. That’s my immediate goal.

“Of course, it’s every young jockey’s dream to ride in the Dubai Carnival and hopefully even win a race,” he added. “I have never ridden in it so far but hopefully I’ll get a chance to ride this year. Insha’Allah.”

It was also a very rewarding moment for Al Balushi, who rode a confident race to defeat eight-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea aboard the second placed Af Musannef and early leader Jap Hadad, the mount of Bernardo Pinheiro. “Yes, it felt good beating someone like Tadhg, who is such a good rider,” said the Omani. “But all credit to my horse who looks a very nice prospect.”

Al Balushi has been a regular visitor to the UAE since 2015 where he has ridden 13 of his 44 career wins.

Meanwhile, Royston Ffrench partnered Tailor’s Row to his third consecutive victory of the season and second at Jebel Ali when taking out the featured Derrinstown Stud handicap in impressive fashion.

French opted for front-running tactics aboard the son of Street Cry to comfortably see off Antonio Fresu’s Dark Of Night and Untold Secret, the mount of Xavier Ziani.

“He’s surprising us all,” said Ffench of the winner. “He’s a great asset to the team,

“I probably should have won two more on him last year, (But) when I picked up the whip up he didn’t really like it and he seemed to back off when I finished second on him a couple of times

“So from then on we never used the whip and he seems to perform better.”

Satish Seemar is a trainer who rarely goes home empty-handed from Jebel Ali and this afternoon was no different when he won the Dubai Real Estate Centre maiden with former French-trained Mazagran and Tadhg O’Shea. “(Mr Ailan Hamad Kadfoor) Al Mehairi bought him last year from the Dubai sale,” said Seemar. “He’s a big, imposing and strong horse who we were hoping would do well today. But he’s shown his true worth and he’s slightly better than that.’’

O’Shea also gave an upbeat bulletin about Mazagran, who was previously trained in France by Andre Fabre for Godolphin. “He’s a slow burner,” said the Irish ace. “He’s slowly learning.

“He’s a beautiful looking horse. There has been a huge difference mentally from his first run. I think wins like that will do his confidence a lot of good. But yes, it’s nice to have these hoses.”