8 March 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Racing at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening was a low key affair, but a memorable one for trainers Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and Helal Al Alawi, who both saddled a double, as well as for Omani apprentices Al Moatasem Al Balushi and Shakir Al Balushi, who both partnered their first winner in the UAE.
Local debutant No Riesgo Al Maury (Nizam), landed the opening 1400m maiden, continuing the good run being enjoyed by the horses owned by The Royal Cavalry of Oman and trained by Al Hadhrami. Raced twice in his native France last year, finishing second both times over 1900m and then dropped to 1600m, the 5-year-old was always travelling well under Szczepan Mazur with the pair quickening to the front with about 200m remaining.
Mazur’s mount galloped resolutely to the line and was always holding the late challenge of Flit Al Maury, who did himself few favors when going very wide around the home turn.
Mazur said: “That was a good effort on his first start for us and he had been off since June so he was entitled to need the run. Hopefully he can build on this and is a nice new recruit.
“He was not beaten far on either start in France and will stay further.”
Al Hadhrami completed his brace in a 2200m handicap, restricted to horses in private ownership, in which Shakir Al Balushi and Thulbaseera Al Jasra (AF Albahar) just held on to deny Hawafez and Burj Al Reef, both of whom were closing fast having been held up a long way off the early pace.
Second throughout the first half of the race, Al Balushi’s mount then took the lead with about 900m remaining and the jockey committed for home leaving the home turn in what was probably a race winning move. They opened up a lead of about four lengths, but the line only just came in time with Hawafez a neck behind, himself a short-head in front of Burj Al Reef.
A 5-year-old entire owned by Hamad Abdul Rahman Mohd Kayed, the horse was recording a first victory having mustered a third, over this course and distance, as his best previous effort in 12 starts.
Al Hadhrami said: “It has been another very satisfying evening and our horses remain in good form, which is very gratifying.”
Al Balushi said: “I knew my horse stays, so I was happy to be positive on him. Luckily we just held on and I am very grateful to connections for the ride on this horse.”
A 1600m handicap for fillies and mares provided a welcome winner for Jaci Wickham and W’Rsan Stables when Sam Hitchcott produced Marwa W’Rsan (Maymoun W’Rsan) to lead close home and deny Elsa Du Bibal, making a gallant attempt to lead from the outset under Jose Santiago.
When the shot clear 300m out the race looked over, but Hitchcott was finishing fast on Marwa W’Rsan and they grabbed the initiative with about 25m remaining to win going away at the line.
Previously a maiden after 14 starts, but finishing in the first three in half of those outings, the 6-year-old was a first winner of the season for Wickham, who endured a fruitless campaign last season. For the owners, it was a first victory in three seasons.
Wickham said: “She was very unlucky last week when caught virtually right on the line and she deserves a win because she always tries so hard. She has placed efforts here, Sharjah, Jebel Ali and Al Ain so is very versatile. Sam has given her a great ride and it is so nice to win with this mare because she has rarely run a bad race and is tough having only run just last week.”
Hitchcott added: “It is great to ride a winner for Jaci who is top trainer and a very popular one. It was the first time I have ridden the mare and she has shown a great attitude to come out on top.”
The equivalent 1600m handicap for colts and geldings was won in fine style by Dahess D’Arabie (Dahess) thatflew home to deny JAP Malawih who had led for the vast majority of the race, fighting off numerous challengers but powerless when the winner shot by.
Trained by Helal Al Alawi for Saleh Omar Ali bin Haidar, the 6-year-old gelding was providing Omani apprentice Al Moatasem Al Balushi a first UAE victory after 41 previous rides during which he had mustered a pair of second and third place finishes.
For the horse, it was a fifth career success and second over this course and distance, but it appeared unlikely after a slow exit from the stalls left him in rear and, at halfway, was actually last. Pulled wide entering the straight, he powered home to win impressively.
Al Alawi said: “That is a third win for this horse this season which is very pleasing. He rarely runs a bad race, has the pace to win over 1200m and has also won on the dirt at Al Ain so he is a great horse to have in the yard as that versatility gives us plenty of options.”
Al Balushi added: “Obviously I am delighted to have opened my UAE account and I have to say a big thank you to the owner and trainer for the opportunity.
Connor Beasley certainly earned his riding fee aboard Safin Al Reef (Bibi De Carrere) in the 2200m handicap and was hard at work on the 6-year-old entire for about 1600m. Racing in midfield and saving ground on the inside rail, Beasley was pushing and shoving from a long way out but found a winning partner, the pair looming in behind the leaders on the home turn before staying on sourly to lead in the final strides to deny Jaahiz and El Faust.
Trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, it was a fourth career victory for the horse but first on turf, a surface he had only raced over on three previous occasions.
Al Hammadi said: “This horse ran well over 2700m at Sharjah last time, so we knew he would stay and he will get further than that distance which was in the Sharjah Marathon. Connor deserves a lot of credit for this win because he was busy a long way out.”
Beasley added: “I won on this horse over 2000m at Al Ain when he stayed on very strongly and, over this 2200m at Abu Dhabi I was finishing fast on him three runs ago. It was a similar story in the Sharjah Marathon and the addition of cheekpieces this evening has seemed to help.”
Autumn Pride completed doubles for Al Alawi, Bin Haidar and Mazur with a smooth victory in the finale and only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2200m maiden. Left in front 600m from home when early leader Al Zeem weakened dramatically, Mazur drove his mount clear soon after and always seemingly had the race in safekeeping despite East Asia giving chase.