Wathba Stud Farm Cup won by Girl Powerr
Sunday’s Abu Dhabi meeting was highlighted by the 2200m Purebred Arabian handicap which produced a pulsating finish with the first ten home separated by just over three lengths.
Takaamul gamely tried to make all under Paul Hanagan and, 50m out, it appeared he may have seen off all challengers, only to be pounced on in the dying strides by Burj Khalifa and the last gasp challenge of Ragdan (NEZ D’OR (FR) – DAGAM (US) by TC Tomtyr).
Ragdan prevailed for trainer, Jaber Bittar, with jockey Jesus Rosales steering him to a late run. “That is the way you have to ride him, with a late challenge,” explained Rosales. “I was pretty hopeful of a big run but it was very close at the death and we just led where it mattered.”
The only Thoroughbred race was also a 2200m handicap and Moonlight Dash made it third time lucky on turf, having twice finished second over this course and distance on his only previous grass outings. Trained by Satish Seemar, he was ridden by stable jockey, Richard Mullen, and the pair crossed the line over four lengths clear in what, had, appeared a competitive heat.
Legendary former jockey, Lester Piggott presented the trophies.
Mullen added: “To receive the award from Lester Piggott is a real honour; he really is a true legend.”
Apprentice William Twiston-Davies opened both his Abu Dhabi account and his account on Purebred Arabians when steering the Ernst Oertel-trained Calleteral (Calin Du Loup (FR) – Tomoka Kate (US) by Ala Croixnoire) to victory in the opening 2200m conditions race. They were chased home by stable companion Hab Nessnas, to get the Champion Trainer off to a flying start.
“This is my only ride of the evening,” said the young jockey. “The horse had been off a while but the trainer was confident he was fit and ready to run a big race. And he certainly was. It is nice to ride a winner here at Abu Dhabi.”
Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, was in the winner’s enclosure after Oertel completed a double with Sheikh Down (Calin Du Loup (FR) – Burning Firestar (US) by BIG EASY) who led right on the line in a 1600m handicap. O’Shea said: “We just made it and it was very close at the line. Luckily we had our head in front where it mattered.
“The horse has been very consistent this season, though he is a bit lazy so we put the blinkers on and it has worked. Ernst has his team in great form as we have seen this evening and at Meydan yesterday when Touch Gold registered a deserved win.
“It is a good yard to be associated with.”
Frenchman Eric Lemartinel trains on the Abu Dhabi course and combined with compatriot, Gerald Avranche, visiting from Qatar, to land a second 2200m conditions race with HK Ahlawiya (Bibi De Carrere (FR) – DREAMERR (US) by Calin De Louve).
The winner was actually opening her career account at the ninth attempt and Avranche said: “It was a funny race with the leader going off very fast so I was happy to take my time. She travelled well and was always going to win from 200m out. Hopefully she can build on this.”
Xavier Ziani made every yard of the running on Jameel Salman’s Girl Powerr (Calin Du Loup (FR) – Dixies Chick (US) by Burning Sand) in the Wathba Stud Farm Cup For Private Owners Only 1400m handicap, the same course and distance over which they won a maiden on their penultimate start.
Ziani said: “The plan was to be positive and she broke very well which was ideal. The runner-up came to us but my mare fought on well.”