15 March 2015, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Abu Dhabi’s final meeting of the 2014-2015 season on Sunday was a cracker. It was highlighted by the 2200m Group 1 Emirates Championship and It’s Far From Over (Doran (FR) x A Foreign Affair (US) by BENGALI D’ALBRET (FR) produced something of a surprise in the Purebred Arabian feature.
Nymphea Du Paon, sporting blinkers for the first time, and Shane Karlsson took the lead and soon were leading the pack by about 20 lengths at halfway. They still had plenty of daylight between themselves and their eight rivals entering the straight but the pack were making inroads into the lead.
Oisin Murphy was the first to give chase on the eventual winner, asking his mount to close about 800m out and they hit the front in the final 50m, posting victory by just over a length.
Nymphea Du Paon, one of three in the race saddled by Salem Al Ketbi, hung on grimly for second, holding off the dual challenge of his two stable companions, Shayel Aldhabi in third and Skoop finishing fourth.
The winner is trained by Omar Daraj who was enjoying a first victory at the highest level, and this was his second winner of the season.
“He had some very good form when he arrived from America two years ago,” said the trainer. “We always thought he had a really big prize in him but it took him a very long time to acclimatize. We have been very patient with him and tonight we have been rewarded.”
“Oisin did everything as we planned and gave him a great ride. I told him to be patient in the first half of the race and to ease into contention, which is exactly what he did. Luckily the plan has worked out.”
Al Ketbi and his Al Asayl team may have been denied in the feature but scooped the UAE Arabian Derby, also over 2200m but restricted to four-year-olds foaled in the UAE. The race was won comfortably by Shaheer (ABU ALEMARAT (FR) x JAMEELA (FR) by Tidjani (FR) under a supremely confident Tadhg O’Shea.
Winner of the Group Three middle round of the Arabian Triple Crown over the same course and distance three weeks ago, this success was achieved in similar fashion.
“We knew he was the best horse in the race but these small fields can prove a tactical nightmare. I was forced to go to the front a lot earlier than ideal but he has a touch of class and did it nicely.”
Shaheer was completing a rapid double for Al Asayl and owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan after the victory of RB Burning Ash (Burning Sand (US) x Ashton Rose (US) by Doran (FR) finishing close to home under O’Shea to take the opening 1400m maiden. The four-year-old was opening his account at the fourth attempt, all over this course and distance, and going one better than on his previous two starts when runner-up.
Held up in midfield, the eventual winner made smooth progress behind the leaders on the home turn but needed every bit of the 1400m to deny Wazn in the closing stages.
“He has improved with each run,” said O’Shea. “He showed good resolve here and is learning about the game all the time. We did not get the clearest of runs so he can hopefully improve.”
The jockey completed a treble, repeating a feat he also achieved at Al Ain on Friday aboard the Eric Lemartinel-trained Af Asefah (Burning Sand (US) x Fleur Du Cayrou (FR) by Dormane (FR) in a 1400m handicap before Richard Mullen won the final race in the capital this season, a 1600m handicap, with Sharaf Al Reef trained by Jaber Bittar.
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