Irish jockey Ronan Whelan claimed his first winner in the UAE on just his tenth mount when producing Tafaakhor to lead in the final strides for trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and claim the only Thoroughbred race, a competitive 1,600m (8f) handicap at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday.
Whelan’s first whole season in the UAE based with Al Rayhi at Grandstand Stables was brought to a shuddering halt after a horrible Meydan fall at the beginning of November. The Irishman only returned to action at Meydan on Thursday.
Speaking about his first winner Whelan said:
“Obviously it is great to get that first winner and to be back in the saddle after a less than ideal start to my local career. I am very grateful to Mr. Al Rayhi and the whole team at Grandstand Stables; both for the opportunity in the first place and their support once I was injured. The team seemed quite bullish about Tafaakhor’s chances and I was able to get a nice position and take my time before he picked up really well close home.”