8 December 2019, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ The first of the three Thoroughbred feature races staged during the season at Abu Dhabi, the 1600m Listed Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup was the highlight in the capital on Sunday and won impressively by Taamol, a first big race winner in the UAE for jockey Sandro Paiva.
Over the same 1600m, the Purebred Arabian equivalent, the Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup was narrowly won by the exciting RB Lam Tara (General), ridden by Fabrice Veron and displaying a telling acceleration to come from the rear of the main group among the 16 runners on the home turn to strike the front with about 200m remaining. From there it was just as case of the winning post arriving soon enough and it did, despite the late challenge of Harrab.
In receipt of weight, as a 4-year-old filly, from all bar one of her 15 rivals, the filly has now won three of her seven starts, all in the capital, including the Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1 over this 1600m in February. Trained by Eric Lemartinel for Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan, Fabrice Veron has been aboard for all seven starts and said: “She is, as we have always said, a very nice filly, still learning and hopefully improving. That was a very good performance in a strong race and, hopefully, she can progress from this.”
Former UAE Champion Jockey Brett Doyle, now a big part of Charlie Appleby’s Godolphin operation, opened his account for the campaign at just the fourth attempt with the ultimately smooth success of Onward (Munjiz) in the opening 2200m handicap.
Settled nearer last than first throughout the early stages, the 4-year-old colt edged closer leaving the back straight and, once asked by Doyle, produced a telling turn of foot in the straight, the pair hitting the front with less than 200m to run and always in control thereafter. Trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, the winner had opened his account, at the eighth attempt, on his previous start over 1800m on the dirt at Al Ain.
Al Hammadi said: “He won at Al Ain last time after two good seconds, but this is the first time we have run him on turf which we wanted to do because his good European form was all on grass.”
Always prominent, perhaps never headed under Fernando Jara from a plum draw in one, debutant JAP Aneed (AF AL BURAQ) made a very pleasing start to his career with a smooth success in a 1200m maiden restricted to horses foaled in the UAE and aged three. Trained by Irfan Ellahi for Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the homebred grey colt was soon in front before Jara sent him for home halfway up the short Abu Dhabi straight after which the result was never in doubt.
Ellahi, who enjoyed an Al Ain victory with JAP Al Kanf on Friday, said: “That was very pleasing and this is a horse we like. It was his first start and, hopefully, he can build on that with time and experience.”
For horses in private ownership, the 1400m handicap was won convincingly by the reigning champions, owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, trainer Ernst Oertel and jockey Tadhg O’Shea who was happy to track the early speed aboard AF Ashras (AF AL BURAQ) before committing for home exiting the home turn. A homebred 8-year-old entire, it was a s fourth career victory for the horse, all bar one on turf, but first since November 2017 when he landed a 1600m handicap here at Abu Dhabi.
O’Shea said: “That was a competitive little race, so we have to be happy with that. This is a horse who rarely runs a bad race, so it is great he has put his head back in front.”
Owner and trainer completed a home bred double in the finale, a 1600m handicap, but this time it was Antonio Fresu in the saddle aboard Noof KB (AF ALBAHAR), a 6-year-old mare who recorded her fourth career victory.