12 March 2017, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ The next to last race of the season at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday was highlighted by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Aljazi in a 1600m conditions contest for fillies and mares.
Jim Crowley tried to lead all the way on and the tactic looked set to pay off entering the straight. With the Abdallah Al Hammadi-trained Bushrah Al Reef (Bibi De Carrere) under Fernando Jara giving chase a duel developed throughout the final 300m with Jara’s mount finally landing the spoils.
“She was really brave and battled strongly when I asked her,” said Jara. “The runner-up looked to be traveling strongly but my mare is gutsy and was able to wear her down where it mattered.”
The US-bred Silk Stockings trained by Jacki Wickham came in for third under Christopher Hayes.
Earlier, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami saddled Arif (Azadi) to land a 1400m handicap to make it two wins from just three career outings and the horse has now won both his turf outings at Abu Dhabi having finished second on the Al Ain dirt on debut.
Never far off the pace, Arif was eased to the front by Dobbs on the home turn and looked set for an easy victor when he appeared to idle in the final 200m. With Dhamin closing fast Arif pushed forward enough not to be caught with AF Hakeem finishing third under Antonio Fresu.
“He is a lovely horse; he looks the part and has a great action,” said Dobbs. “He jumped well and has plenty of speed so I was traveling well. We were left in front earlier than ideal but the line came in time and he will only improve with experience.”
Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, Abu Dhabi’s top owner for Arabians, is enjoying a fantastic season, particularly with horses he has bred himself and trained by Ernst Oertel. The combination struck again in the opening 1400m maiden with debutant AF Asheham (AF AL Buraq) never headed under Antonio Fresu.
Sixteen may have gone to post but few were a challenge as the winner set off at a decent gallop before quickening clear in the straight.
“He is a nice horse who is going to improve as he was still quite green,” said Fresu. “He was happy out in front and we were able to control the tempo before he quickened when I asked him. He galloped on strongly and could be a nice prospect for next season.”
The same owner and trainer celebrated a double, this time it was Tadhg O’Shea’s turn aboard Ibn Harmany Al Zobair in the Wathba Stud Farm Cup For Private Owners Only 1200m handicap. At the jump Royston Ffrench was soon in front aboard Naiem tracked by Richard Mullen aboard AF Khafajeh, a stable companion of the eventual winner.
Ffrench and Naiem appeared likely to prevail but his mount was tiring 200m from home when O’Shea was able to conjure up the decisive late challenge from Ibn Harmany Al Zobair, one of the few from Nabooda’s stable not actually bred by the owner.
“He stays 1400m well and this 1200m would be his minimum trip requirement,” said O’Shea. “There was a strong gallop early on which has really helped him utilize his stamina close home.”
Jockey Fresu was another to complete a double but had to work much harder aboard Cheik Roque trained by Erwan Charpy. The Dahess son ground down Da’Areen in the closing stages in a 1600m handicap.
The latter tried valiantly to make all under Royston Ffrench whose charge responded bravely when challenged by Fresu’s mount but was finally passed in the final 100m.
“I won on him over course and distance in January when he produced a very similar performance,” said Fresu. “He appreciated the return to these conditions today after a run on dirt at Al Ain and he is a decent performer at this level who loves a battle.”
The only Thoroughbred race on the card and claimed in a photograph by Indescribable under the double-winning Pat Dobbs trained by Doug Watson for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti.