Sunday December 9, 2012, Abu Dhabi Press Release ~ It was the eagerly awaited National Day Cup meeting at Abu Dhabi on Sunday (yesterday) evening with the first two big races of the current UAE season. The Group 1 Purebred Arabian National Day Cup was the official feature and the 1600m highlight, carrying AED 250,000 ($68,000 USA) in prize money and was turned into a procession by history-making Areem.
Trained by Majed Al Jahouri for H E Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Areem was jumped out in front by Ahmed Ajtebi and hardly saw another rival with the pair surging clear about 600m out. That proved a decisive move and completed a great weekend for connections after the victory of Dariya at Meydan on Thursday evening. This was the first time the National Day Cup has been won by an Emirati owner, trainer and jockey combination.
“I told everyone on Thursday that Areem had a big chance tonight and he has proved it,” said Ajtebi. “This is a very proud moment for all of us – we are Emiratis and this is the National Day Cup – a race we want to win. I really have to thank Sheikh Mansour and of course Majed the trainer for these opportunities. Both have been very supportive.”
“When I rode Areem three weeks ago he was a bit fresh and on edge but was a totally different horse tonight. I was very hopeful but he has surprised me with just how well he has won.”
The Thoroughbred version, also over 1600m, carries Listed status and it looked a particularly strong renewal this year but Derbaas proved far too good for his 11 opponents and repeated his victory of three weeks previously in the prep.
Representing owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Champion Trainer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe and the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, Derbaas quickened to the front early in the straight and was never going to be caught.
O’Neill was clearly impressed: “I thought he was good last time but the yard thought he needed that run and he was certainly better this evening; to travel strongly and then quicken off that fast pace was a very good effort and I was never really worried once a gap opened and he quickened clear.”
Jaasoos, twice a winner of this race himself, gave chase in vain but had to settle for second, just as he had 12 months ago.
Racing opened with a 1600m conditions race and Jaber Bittar supplied the 1-2 with Monawer and Jesus Rosales just holding off the late challenge of stable companion, Sabbaq under Pat Cosgrave.
It was a different story in the following 1600m maiden when Carlos Sanchez drove Laahaq to deny long time leader Munsef close home to initiate a double for owner Sheikh Mansour and trainer Al Jahouri.
Harry Bentley was in the saddle on Sawbah, winner of a 1,000m handicap for Al Ain-based trainer, Tony Manuel, while the concluding 2,200m handicap went to Ibn Battuta Monlau, ridden by Gerald Avranche for Eric Lemartinel who had been denied National Day Cup glory earlier in the evening with Nieshan.