• The week’s significant milestones, facts and figures
4 Tadhg O’Shea
UAE: A four-timer in the last four races on a six-race card at Abu Dhabi on Sunday [Feb 14] means that the excellent Tadhg O’Shea looks sure to retain his jockeys’ title in the UAE.
O’Shea, the UAE’s winningmost rider of all time with 584 career victories, would be winning the championship for the fourth straight season and ninth overall. Going into the second half of February, the Irishman has what looks an unassailable 11-winner lead over Fabrice Veron.
Sunday’s quartet featured three Purebred Arabian winners (two for Ernst Oertel and one for Omani-based Ibrahim Al Hadhrami) plus victory in the sole thoroughbred event on the card aboard Law Of Peace for Satish Seemar.
1,500 Brad Cox
USA: Four wins at the Breeders’ Cup, a Pegasus World Cup with Knicks Go and a first Eclipse Award as champion trainer: Brad Cox is a hard man to keep out of the news at the moment.
On Wednesday [Feb 10], he recorded the 1,500th winner of his career when the filly Australasia romped under Diego Saenz to land the $100,000 Premier Starlet by more than seven lengths at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana.
5,328 Javier Castellano
USA: Four-time US champion jockey Javier Castellano is set to return at action after three months on the sidelines at Gulfstream Park on Wednesday [Feb 17].
Venezuelan-born Castellano, 43, has a career total of 5,328 victories to his name in North America. The Hall of Fame jockey, who has not ridden since leg surgery in mid-November, is named on the Ralph Nicks-trained Sexy Dream in Race 9 at Gulfstream, where he won five consecutive meet riding titles from 2011-12 to 2015-16.
New Zealand: Marvellous mare Avantage landed her seventh G1 success in the BCD Sprint over 7f at Te Rapa on Saturday [Feb 13], when Te Akau’s five-year-old scored by 3½ lengths under Opie Bosson.
“I really do believe she has a G1 win in Australia in her and I would like to give her that opportunity,” said trainer Jamie Richards.
On the same card, Richards-trained Melody Belle met traffic problems as she chased a new NZ record for G1 wins in the Herbie Dyke Stakes. Chasing her 14th top-level success at long odds-on, she beat only one home behind Royal Performer.
30.5m Saudi Cup
Saudi Arabia: Everyone knows the $20 million Saudi Cup is the world’s richest race – but with a total of $30.5m in prize-money, Saturday’s eight-race offering at King Abdulaziz racecourse on the outskirts of Riyadh is now the world’s richest racecard as well.
The Saudi purse fund has surpassed the Dubai World Cup card, where prizes are diminished for 2021 owing to COVID privations. Although the Meydan main event stays at $12m, cuts elsewhere mean the total is now $26.5m across nine races.
The 14-race Breeders’ Cup series will offer $31m across two days at Del Mar on November 5-6.