16 February 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Racing in the capital at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday, 16 February 2020 was highlighted by the Emirates Fillies Classic and Emirates Colts Classic. Both contests carried Prestige status over 1600m and restricted to 4-year-olds foaled in the UAE. Marzaga took the fillies race to continue the fantastic first season being enjoyed by trainer Ana Mendez.
A 1600m maiden winner on her previous start, the filly was able to reverse form from the 1400m Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic with Dhafra, never headed on that occasion, but unable to withstand the determined challenge of Marzaga (Bibi de Carrere) and Jim Crowley in the final 100m riding in the yellow and green silks of Al Wathba Racing. For the home bred filly it was a second career victory on her eighth racecourse appearance, fifth in the UAE, having raced three times all on turf in her native France. Having been settled in the middle of the 13 runners by Crowley, the pair made smooth progress on the home turn before unleashing their telling challenge in the centre of the course.
Mendez said: “That is a very pleasing effort from an improving filly and under a very good ride from a top jockey. I am very fortunate to train these nice horses for such good connections.”
Crowley added: “That was certainly a nice spare ride and it was a good performance because we know Dhafra is decent, but my filly has really stayed the trip well.”
Colts Classic with Jawaal
Crowley, sporting the same Al Wathba Racing silks then completed the classic double in the colts’ equivalent, this time riding for Majed Al Jahoori aboard Jawaal, (Mahabb) previously a maiden after three starts. In a virtual carbon copy of his winning ride in the fillies’ race, Crowley settled the home bred colt in the middle of the field before giving chase entering the straight.
Maqam, who has been left in front at halfway when JAP Aneed unseated Royston Ffrench, was the target and Crowley’s mount finished off his race strongly, hitting the front 200m out and pulling clear from Musheer Al Wathba who claimed second.
Crowley said: “I have never ridden in these colors before tonight, so it has been a great start in them and a good night’s work. Luckily I was on the inside when Royston was unseated, so I avoided any trouble and my horse picked up like a good one in the straight.
Video – JAWAAL – Jim Crowley
(1.44.08 – 1600m)
Emirates Colts Classic
Having enjoyed a double at his local track, Al Ain, on Friday, Helal Al Alawi somewhat belatedly saddled his first Thoroughbred winner of the campaign with Greeley and Connor Beasley snatching the spoils in a 1400m handicap. In what was the only Thoroughbred race on the card, the 4-year-old gelded son of Sir Prancealot was drawn widest of all in 16, but Beasley was able to settle him in the middle of the pack, always seemingly going well. Turning for home, he pulled his mount to challenge quite wide and found he had a willing partner with a decent turn of foot, the pair shooting to the front inside the final 100m to win well. Five times a winner in Britain for trainer Rod Millman, this was just Greeley’s second local start having finished sixth on his UAE bow over 1600m on the dirt at Jebel Ali just nine days ago.
The opening 1400m handicap looked competitive on paper with the maximum allowed field of 16 declared and so it proved with the lead changing hands on numerous occasions, particularly in the final 400m. It was at that point Faiza (Dormane) was sent to the front sweeping past SS Lamea but immediately tackled by Ainhoa Topchef. The last named led about the 200m pole but was headed by Sanad whose time in front was brief with Faiza and Sandro Paiva finishing fast and late down the centre of the track to lead in the final 50m and win going away from Sanad.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for Jumaa Mubarak Al Junaibi, the 5-year-old mare was doubling her career tally and opening her local account, at the sixth attempt, in the process, having lost her maiden tag in a 1600m conditions race on her seventh and final start in France in April 2019.
Paiva said: “I know this mare well and was just denied on her over 1600m on her penultimate start when we were caught close home, so it is nice to get a win on her for connections.”
Five of the 16 runners in the 1600m handicap for horses in private ownership were saddled by Ernst Oertel for his main patron, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda. They combined to provide first and second with the owner’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, victorious aboard AF Ashras (AF Al Buraq) chased home by AF Akeem that had tried valiantly to make all under Bernardo Pinheiro.