Racing at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday, their penultimate fixture of the season in the capital, was highlighted by a 2200m handicap, won in determined style by Jaser, ridden patiently by Silvestre de Sousa for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami. The trainer saddled three of a total of ten runners, all owned by Ben Shahwan Arabian Racing Stables.
In a race which appeared to be run at a good gallop, early leader AF Mahshoum was committed for home leaving the final bend and appeared to have most of his nine opponents in trouble. However, he soon started to weaken under Jim Crowley and had no answer to Jaser’s challenge at the 200m pole, losing second to Mukaram in the final 100m.
De Sousa said: “It is the first time I have ridden him but he is a lovely horse and one who would appreciate even further judged on that performance. The jockey added: “It is only his second outing on turf since arriving in the UAE and, after two runs on dirt, he has clearly relished it.He had some decent form on grass and over this kind of trip in Europe, so I imagine connections will be looking for similar races, perhaps next season.”
The only Thoroughbred contest, the following 1400m maiden appeared to be contested at a furious early gallop, so it was no great surprise most of those who raced prominently finished out the back and well beaten.
The one exception was Muqaatil, settled just behind the leaders by dual British champion jockey Silvestre De Sousa, with the pair taking the lead 300m from home and galloping on strongly to complete a quick double for the Brazilian.
Trained by Ahmad bin Harmash for Mansoor Al Mansoori, the winner was opening his account at his ninth attempt locally.
Earlier he had finished second twice in six outings in England. Prior to this, his best UAE effort was just last Saturday, when third over 1800m on the Meydan turf.
“He does seem happier on turf than dirt so this looked a good opportunity for him. De Sousa said: “He was running on over further last week so I was happy to be quite positive in him and confident he would stay. Hopefully now he has that first win to his name he can progress from here.”
The opening 1600m maiden was won in unlikely fashion by Morjanah Al Reef who, after a slow start, was nearer last than first among a well strung out 16 runners throughout the first half of the race. At that point, the race looked a duel between long term leader, AF Esnad and Tawazun, who was giving valiant chase but Morjanah Al Reef could be spotted making good progress from the rear.
Just when it appeared Tawazun had the upper hand, edging ahead of AF Esnad less than 200m out, Fernando Jara produced the winner to land the spoils for Abdallah Al Hammadi and Al Ajban Stables.
Having her sixth career start, she certainly looks likely to stay further and Jara said: “It was a good finish in the end and I was worried I would not get to Tawazun but then my filly really gave everything in the final stages.”
Half an hour later a handicap, over the same 1600m course and distance, produced a virtual carbon copy result with Jara, for the same connections, producing Bushrah Al Reef late on to deny Bainoona having spent most of the race at the back of the eight runners. Bainoona, like Tawazun, was ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel who also were denied with Mukaram, second to Jaber in the feature.
Bushrah Al Reef was winning for a fourth time, all at Abu Dhabi and over 1600m on three occasions. Jara said: “I am delighted for the owners and the trainer who have given me plenty of opportunities so it is great to ride a double for them. This one was probably actually a bit harder work than the first one but we were quite hopeful because I won on her two starts ago over this course and distance before she ran ok next time.”
Having finished runner-up on his four previous starts, all this year, MH Tawag deserved a change of fortune and was able to get his head back in front, for the third time in his career but first since January last year, in the lesser of the 2200m handicaps on the card. Settled in midfield by Harry Bentley, riding for Elise Jeanne in the colours of Mansoor Khalifa Sultan Bin Habtoor, he made good progress on the home turn before keeping on relentlessly in the straight to deny Jeemi.
Bentley said: “You could see in the book the horse had plenty of good, solid, form and he has done that nicely this evening. The jockey continued: “I was able to get a good position and I thought we would go very close turning for home. He then picked up well and fought off the second horse and kept on strongly.”
Jeanne added: “The horse deserved that after so many good efforts this season and I am delighted for him, the owner who also bred him, and the whole team at home.”
Owner and trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi took his tally for the campaign to nine, having only saddled three winners previously, with the 1400m handicap success of AF Gadeer, driven home by apprentice Anas Al Siyabi.
With several rivals drifting off a straight line in the straight and severely impacting their chances, Al Siyabi enjoyed a dream run along the rail, leading 150m out and denying a renewed challenge from AZ Laheeb who, if he had not forfeited considerable ground, would probably have won.
Partnering his sixth winner of the season, Anas Al Siyabi said: “Even though he had not won previously, this is a good horse and should improve.
He jumped well and I was able to get a nice position. Siyabi added: “When others started to drift wide, we had a lovely gap on the rail and were luckily able to take advantage.”
The finale, a 1400m maiden, proved to be an historic occasion with O’Shea and Lemartinel, who had endured a frustrating evening, combining to land the spoils with RB Brick House, a first ever winner to carry the colours of Shka Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan.
A new owner this season, it was just her eighth runner and O’Shea said: “I am delighted to ride this important winner in these colours because the owner, Sheikha Alyazia, absolutely loves her racing and breeding. She is very knowledgeable and passionate, as are her family and it is a great privilege to ride for them.”