We are delighted to bring you an interview with newly crowned & 8 time UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea. Having learned his trade in Ireland alongside some legendary jockeys, Tadhg has been flying in the UAE & has amassed over 500 winners, including 2 at the Dubai World Cup….
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself please?
I grew up in a small village called Dromahane situated just outside Mallow town, I’m from a family of 7 with 4 sisters & 2 brothers with none of us having any racing background.
What was your first racing memory?
I suppose my earliest racing memory was attending Dromahane point to point with my parents
Did you always want to be a jockey or did you have another career path in mind?
Being a jockey never crossed my mind till secondary school when a career guidance teacher mentioned it to me and at the same time I had 2 cousins that were doing a jockey course in Kildare.
Where did you start as an Apprentice?
I obviously attended RACE in Kildare, done a 2 week course and was thankfully accepted along with 29 others to do there 11 month training apprentice course to start us on our way.
You rode some big winners for Mick Halford & John Ox when you were in Ireland, what were those days like back in Ireland with some fantastic Jockeys around in your early days….
Obviously to ride big or small winners gives me a great buzz but to have the odd big winner in Ireland as an apprentice with some great senior riders at the time, gave me a lot of confidence and a great feeling.
Having started riding back in 2001, who gave you the best advice & who did you look up to?
After successfully completing the course in 1998 I was assigned to Michael Halford stable alongside Debbie Pierce, who would later become my wife. I always looked up to the best in the weighing room which was Mick Kinane and for me as a kid coming through he had no equal and was always willing to help.
Michael Halford at the time I thought was a very tough boss but looking back I wouldn’t have achieved anything if it were not for his support advice and guidance through the early part of my career, I have a lot to thank him for and we are great friends.
What year did you move to UAE & How did that come about?
I was lucky enough to become champion apprentice in 2001 & HH SHAIK Hamdan Bin Rashid al Maktoum kindly sponsored an all expense paid trip to Dubai that year for the champion apprentice, which thankfully was me and I have been coming back every year since with the exception of 1 season.
Apart from the weather, what are the main differences riding in the UAE compared to in Europe?
Dubai is a fantastic place for any jockey with top class facilities and top class riders from all over the world.
Is there much difference riding on the Dirt in Meydan to say Dundalk?
There is a huge difference from dirt tracks to Turf & all weather tracks, things happen a lot quicker on the dirt and the whole race can be won & lost from the start.
On the dirt the fractions are fast from the beginning.
What is your favourite part of the UAE season?
World Cup night.
What is the best horse you have ridden?
Le Bernardin – when right on the dirt, he was Class.
If you could ride any horse, PAST or PRESENT, who would it be & why?
Dubai Millinium, Frankel & Enable I wouldn’t be too fussy which one!
We would like to thank Tadhg for his time and wish him all the best for DWC and the future….
Interview by Rich Williams
Pictures – Tadhg O’Shea (Twitter) Others File