17 January 2016, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Its been a landmark season for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, a prominent local owner-breeder. On Sunday, 17 January, he continued his winning ways to celebrate a three-timer at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club’s meeting in the nation’s capital. Al Nabooda’s tally for the season is now 17, already his best result of the past five seasons and more than triple the final score of last term.
AF Tawaq and AF Hakeem, both prepared by Ernst Oertel at Dubai’s Desert One stables and AF Maqayes trained at the Meydan complex by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, all paid visits to the Winner’s Circle to complete the treble.
AF Hakeem (AF Al Buraq(AE) sprung a surprise in the Al Taweelah Handicap (1600m), the richest race for Purebred Arabians on the card. Jockey Sam Hichcott had clearly been told to be positive and was intent on wrestling the lead from eventual runner-up Hamza at the end of the first 200 metres. After setting a good gallop Hitchcott set sail for home on the four-year-old at the top of the straight.
Meanwhile, Hamza’s errant racing manners were presenting his rider, the term’s leading jockey Tadhg O’Shea, with problems galore as he gave away valuable ground. To add to the Irishman’s woes over the final part of the race Hamza appeared more than content to remain in second and was very reluctant to try to pass.
“On the ratings we had a lot to find,” said Hitchcott. “But fair play to owner and trainer for taking their chance, for a decent pot, in a small field contest. “It was his first try at the trip and he has seen it out well. We actually went pretty quick; I was more of a passenger at one stage but it all worked out well in the end.”
AF Tawaq had laid the foundation for the Oertel brace when landing a back–to-back double on the course with an easy win in the opening Ajban (1600m). Stepping into conditions company after a course and distance win in maiden grade a fortnight ago, the Richard Mullen-ridden six-year-old led from gate-to-wire reaching the judge nine lengths clear of his nearest pursuer.
“It has been a good few days,” said Mullen, who had ridden a treble at Meydan the previous Thursday and Al Ain’s feature winner a day later. This is the perfect start to the evening but I did think he was my best chance on the card. Ernst has his horses in great form and Mr. Al Nabooda has some nice horses produced through his breeding operation. This horse loves bowling along in front and has a high cruising speed. He seems to be improving.”
O’Shea bounced back from earlier disappointments, combining with Al Raihe to present Al Nabooda with his treble, courtesy of another all-the-way victor when AF Maqayes (AF Al Buraq x AF Abad (AE) posted a four-and-a-half lengths margin in the meetings edition of the regular Wathba Stud Farm Cup (1200m), a fourth win from just five career starts, in the four-year-old colt’s freshman season of racing.
“He is a bonny little horse and just tries his best all the time,” said O’Shea. “He was actually probably unlucky the time he was beaten but bounced back well at Al Ain last time. He is genuine and speedy which is always a good combination and he may keep on improving.”
Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, Director General of ADEC, Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairperson of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairperson of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) and Muneera Al Marzouqi-Commercial Manager of the National Feed and Flour Production Company attended the prize distribution ceremony.
Qatar’s reigning champion jockey Harry Bentley posted a second UAE win in the space of two days partnering Makzon to land the Al Shahamah Handicap (2200m) the night’s Thoroughbred race.
Al Asayl handler, Eric Lemartinel produced a one-two in the Madinat Zayed Handicap (1600m) when Bedayer Al Asayl (Djel Bon x Anshoudat Farah), ridden by former UAE champion Wayne Smith landed the spoils defying the more highly fancied Al Yawazi, partnered by O’Shea, who gave vain chase all the way up the straight.
“This mare has travelled really strongly throughout today,” said Smith. “If anything I was going too well and ended up in front sooner than ideal. Most of her form is on dirt but she did win her maiden in 2013 here at Abu Dhabi and actually has now won both her turf starts.”
Smith captured his own double in the finale, the Al Raha Beach (2200m) conditions race aboard the Nacer Samri-trained Gozla’An (Bibi De Carrere (FR) – DJOUNA (FR) by Djouras Tu (FR) for owner, HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan.