Feature Story



By Sam Turner

The Emirates Racing Authority celebrated a magnificent 2022-23 season on Sunday evening at a glittering awards ceremony staged at the iconic Museum of the Future. The ceremony was witnessed, and the winners were crowned by Engineer Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, Member of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Authority, Major General Dr. Mohammed Issa Al Adhab, Member of the Board of Directors and Executive Director of the Dubai Racing Club, Mohammed Ahmed Al Harbi, Director General of the Emirates Arabian Horse Association, Mohammed Al Ahmad, Director General of Jebel Ali Racecourse, and Suad Al Serkal.

Director of Strategic Communications Department at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. The second edition of the awards night attracted a stellar field with Doug Watson present to collect his Champion Trainer award for the eighth time, while rider Tadgh O’Shea picked up trophy number 11 for another title winning season. O’Shea, who tragically lost his mother during the last campaign, later dedicated the award to her memory and revealed that his mother’s passing acted as motivation to capture yet another title. Also present was Frances Crowley, wife of the much-missed Pat Smullen, who made the journey to Dubai along with son Paddy, to present the Pat Smullen Exceptional Ride Award (Sponsored by JARC) to Sam Hitchcott.

Crowley extended her sincere thanks and appreciation to Jebel Ali Racecourse for inviting her to participate in crowning the winner of the award and she also thanked the Emirates Racing Authority for commemorating her husband’s life and career with an award in his name. For his part, Hitchcott was also touched to have received the honour in Smullen’s name. “I was lucky enough to ride against Pat in a number of races and his passing was a great loss for the sport,” he said. “It is a great honour to receive such a prestigious award from Frances and it is wonderful that she is present in person.” Mohammed Al-Ahmad, General Manager of Jebel Ali, commented: “Sponsoring the award comes as a tribute and an appreciation for the period that the late Pat Smullen spent at Jebel Ali Stables. “His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was keen that Jebel Ali should sponsor the award.”


A strong season in the saddle saw Marcelino Rodrigues crowned Champion Apprentice, while another rising star, Sultan Al Jahoori, captured the award with that title for his work as assistant to his father Majid Al Jahouri. “The ambition is to work harder and remain motivated to reach my aspirations,” he said. “I am learning so much at the moment and hopefully I can then be a trainer in my own right when the time is right.” The efforts of Hamad Al Marar were also recognised by the ERA who voted him best Rising Local Trainer, recognition which will serve as a motivation going forward. “The award doubles my responsibility and commitment to my profession and has added a lot to the horse racing industry in the UAE where it is considered a great incentive for all workers in horse racing,” commented Al Marar. Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda was present to collect the Champion Owner award for the sixth time as well as the Best Stallion Award with AF Albahar (AE), and said that the results promise a strong and lucrative future for the region. The final award went the way of Khalid Al Muhairi who was recognised for his work in the media with the Media Personality Award.