Al Jahouri-Trained Thakif Short Head Winner of Abu Dhabi Highlight ***
15 February 2015 ~ The 2200m Group 1 HH The President Cup, with increased prize money of AED3m this year, was the highlight at the evening races at Abu Dhabi on 15 February as Majed Al Jahouri combined with Harry Bentley scooped the jackpot with Thakif (Mahabb (AE) x SHEENA (FR) by Djelfor).
Ahmed Ajtebi made a good effort aboard the winner’s stable companion Areem, but the bay’sstamina failed him and he had no answer to Bentley’s mount that took over at the 300m from the post. Thakif soon went clear but had to run all the way to the line with Abu Alabyad, winner of the course and distance trial two weeks ago, trying hard to get past. It was close at the post but Bentley’s mount had done enough to add to his amazing career record. Shayel Aldhabi settled in for third three and a half lengths behind.
This was the third successive win for the seven-year-old chestnut son of Mahabb owned by Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Trainer Majed Al Jahouri said, “I believe that qualifies him for the Kahayla Classic as he has now won all his three races, two Group 1 prizes and a Group 2.”
“A couple of years ago there was no way he would have won over 2200m,” said Bentley. “He was just far too keen in his races but he has grown up he has learned to settle much better.He is a real favourite of mine and this was my sixth win on him this season – including a 1600m National Day and twice over 1000m in Group 3 company.”
The Listed 1400m Thoroughbred version produced a thrilling finish with Royston Ffrench’s mount, Ertijaal, just holding on from the Mike De Kock-trained Johan Strauss who was finishing like an express train under Pat Dobbs.
The opening 1600m handicap proved a memorable occasion for Swedish jockey, Shane Karlsson, who partnered his first UAE winner at only the fifth attempt, on RB Smoking Rich (TH Richie (US) x Dixies Chick (US) by Burning Sand (US) for Salem Al Ketbi.
Settled in mid division, he made smooth progress at the top of the straight and led 200m from home, winning comfortably in the end.
“It is great to get the first winner on the board and it is a wonderful opportunity and one I am really enjoying. This was actually my first ride in Abu Dhabi. It is a powerful yard and there are plenty of nice horses at Al Asayl. Hopefully it won’t be my only winner.”
Karlson must have thought he was going to double his tally on TM-DC in the Wathba Stud Farm Cup for Private Owners 1400m handicap. The pair led 300m out, only to be denied about 100m later by Ain Jaloot (Amer x SHOAGH (FR) by Dormane (FR).
Frenchman Gerald Avranche was in the saddle for this win for trainer and compatriot Eric Lemartinel, a pair who have combined to win many races locally, especially at Abu Dhabi.
“They went pretty quick,” said Avranche and I was always confident the leaders would tire. At the top of the straight my horse started to pick up nicely and has won comfortably in the end.”
Ms Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, Chairman of the International Federation of Horse Racing Academies (IFHRA) and Chairman of Ladies & Apprentice Racing Committees in the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR) said, “The Wathba Stud Farm Cup series has produced many star winners and Ain Jaloot is the latest to join that list. This series is being run here in Abu Dhabi to encourage private owners only and Al Yaqoub Arabians is one of the success stories of the local breeding programme.”
The 1600m Emirates Fillies’ Classic provided the perfect opportunity for the Huyam (NIZAM (GB) x Arabesque Safinat (FR) by Kesberoy (FR), second in four of her previous starts, to finally open her account.
Ridden positively by apprentice George Buckell, she led as the runners entered the home turn but the young jockey waited into they well into the straight before really asking her for an effort.
She responded well and opened up what proved a decisive lead with MH Kanz, AZ Shamah and Nawarat Al Reef all closing at the end but never looking likely to get there.
“She has deserved that after some really good runs in defeat,” said Buckell. “She really picked up well when I asked her and was then always going to hang on.This should do her confidence the power of good.”
The meeting finished with a 1400m handicap and Al Ketbi completed a first-and-last-race double when RB Torch (TH Richie (US) x Burnie Gee PW (US) by Burning Sand (US) and Tadhg O’Shea triumphed over their six rivals.