Thakif & Bentley Land Fourth Victory in Abu Dhabi Group 3 Contest
He saddled Thakif to win the 1600m Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, the highlight of Abu Dhabi’s first meeting of the season on Sunday evening.
Ten may have gone to post but the race only ever really involved the winner, ridden by Harry Bentley, and stable companion Shateh on who apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei set a strong gallop.
As the field swung for home, Bentley was still sat motionless on Thakif with Al Mazrooei hard at work on Shateh. In behind, the other eight jockeys were all in trouble and Bentley eased his mount to the lead halfway up the straight.
They won comfortably, with Shateh holding on for second.
The horse has now won four times, all in the UAE and with Bentley aboard on each occasion.
“This horse has a lot of speed and a bit of class,” said Bentley.
“Shateh went pretty hard up front which has suited me as my horse has won over this trip so stamina was not a worry.
“I was always travelling supremely well and it was a good win. Whenever you ride one for this yard you know you are on a good horse.”
The HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies’ (IFAHR) World Championship, over 1600m and final race on the card, went the way of Molahen El Alhan, a third winner on the card for Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel.
Jadey Pietrasiewicz, from Holland, was in the saddle and rode a supremely confident race, tracking early leader Laamma before challenging early in the straight.
Bigg N Rich loomed as a big danger but was soon seen off and lost second to Laamma who ran on again in the final 200m.
Oertal said: “It has been a great evening. We knew this horse had a massive chance as he is improving all the time. You need luck in these races with the draw and we enjoyed a lot – both with gate two and one of the best jockeys in the race.
“Hopefully Molahen El Alhan can have a good season.”
The HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey (IFAHR) World Championship, over 2200m, was settled by the judge with the Oertel-trained pair Najm Alemarat and Munzade crossing the line together.
It was the latter who gained the day, denying his stable companion on the line under Vahdettin Kaplan from Turkey.
The trainer’s third runner, Forgehill Cezanne, was third for good measure.
Oertel said: “We knew coming into the race we had three good chances and was not sure which was our best hope. To get the first three is great.
“I have to say, my jockeys have all ridden very well and to their orders.”
Earlier, debutant Abhaar won the opening 1400m maiden for the Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea combination, belying his inexperience to forge clear inside the final 200m.
O’Shea said: “It was probably only an average contest but you can do no more than win on debut and, once the penny dropped, he won well enough.
“There is plenty of improvement in him and hopefully he is a nice young prospect for the yard.”
O’Shea completed a double with the success of Live Rich, a landmark first winner for Saeed Hadher Al Mazrouei for whom he was only a fifth runner.
O’Shea and his mount hit the front about 300m out, just before the runners entered a part of the track not luminated due to a floodlight issue.
Luckily that was soon resolved.
There was a tremendous finish to the only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1600m handicap in which it appeared the eleven-year-old veteran Rochdale was going to win for the first time since November 2012 and joining Rashed Bouresly at the end of the 2013 season.
However, Bouresly’s charge was headed in the final 50m by Marching Time, trained by Doug Watson and seemingly produced with a perfectly timed challenge by Pat Dobbs.
Sadly for them though, David Smith and the Satish Seemar-trained Royal Revival flew up the rail to land the spoils right on the line.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “That was a great ride from David and the horse has appreciated the return to turf after a few disappointing dirt efforts.
“He had some decent form in France on grass for Andre Fabre so we were delighted when we saw this opportunity for him back on turf.”