2 February 2020 ~ Racing in the capital at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday evening was highlighted by the only Thoroughbred contest on the six-race card, a 2200m handicap and the meeting’s final event, won relatively comfortably by Mudaarab, confidently ridden by Jim Crowley for his main employer, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and trained by Erwan Charpy whose horses have been in good form all season.
In a field of 12, Mudaarab (Distorted Humor (USA) x Middle Club (GB) by FANTASTIC LIGHT (USA) ridden by Crowley probably only had two behind him halfway down the back straight but closed smoothly on the leading pack on the home turn before sprinting to the front 300m from home. That proved a race-winning move with the 6-year-old gelding powering home to record a second course and distance victory this season, both his UAE wins and half his career total of four.
Charpy said: “This horse has had a good season, running consistently well and he certainly is better on turf. He likes it here at Abu Dhabi, but ran very well at Meydan last time. We will have to see what the handicapper does, but he rated 88 tonight so could be a Dubai World Cup Carnival horse now. When I won on him in November it was actually my very first ride of the UAE season. He did it well then and has done so again. He is a credit to Erwan and his team.”
Restricted to horses in private ownership, a 1400m handicap provided the perfect opportunity for Irish apprentice Sean Kirrane to continue his fine recent run, landing the spoils on top weight AF Makerah (AF AL BURAQ) for Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda who also bred the 7-year-old mare.
Having tracked the leaders throughout the first half of the race, Kirrane asked his mount to challenge early in the straight, the pair hitting the front 300m out and never looking likely to be caught. It was a first Abu Dhabi victory for Kirrane, about 23 hours after his breakthrough winner at Meydan having also opened his Al Ain account at Al Ain on Friday when registering the first double of his fledgling career. For AF Makerah it was a fifth career victory, all in Abu Dhabi and a second over this course and distance.
Kirrane, based with Satish Seemar at Zabeel Stables, said: “It has just been a brilliant three days and I cannot thank Mr Oertel and Mr Al Nabooda enough for this opportunity; you always know you have a definite chance riding for them in these races. She travelled well throughout the race and I was always pretty happy. When I asked her to go win her race she did just that and has won nicely.”
An hour later the owner was celebrating a double, snaring the best of the Purebred Arabian action, a second 1600m handicap on the card, with AF Momtaz from the same sire, saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri. Never far off the pace under stable jockey Antonio Fresu, he was rousted to lead leaving the home turn, he and AF Sanad shooting clear of the remaining 11. They duelled until the latter cried enough at the 200m pole with Fresu’s mount galloping resolutely to the line and with the race in safekeeping.
Homebred, the 7-year-old, registering a third success this season, has now won five times, all on the Abu Dhabi turf and this was a fourth victory over track and trip.
Al Nabooda said: “It is always especially nice to win these homebreds and both these winners have done very well for me over a few years.”
Fresu added: “This is a wonderful little horse who just tries his best all the time and has gained another deserved success.”
The meeting kicked off with a 1400m maiden in which Omani apprentice Saif Al Balushi sent SS Lamea (Barak) straight to the front before kicking him clear leaving the home turn and the pair running on well to hold the late challenges of runner-up Flit Al Maury and Gharbeya.
Trained by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami for Ahmed Saeed Al Mazrouei, the 5-year-old gelding was having just his second career start having finished midfield in a 1600m maiden on the Al Ain dirt surface, weakening in the final 400m after chasing the leaders for the majority of the race,
Al Balushi said: “He seemed to enjoy himself out in front, then quickened nicely and stayed on well. It was a good, game effort.”
The first and lesser of two 1600m handicaps was won in thrilling fashion by Maaly Al Reef (Bibi De Carrere), delivered in the final 100m by Brett Doyle to snatch the spoils from MH Wari, AF Arrab and Omania, a trio who had been battling one another for the lead throughout the final 600m. Nearer last than first at halfway, Doyle’s mount, a 6-year-old entire started to gather momentum on the home turn before finding full stride once in the straight to deny the other trio and finally win quite comfortably, putting more distance between himself and his rivals in the closing stages.
It was just a second win for the horse, trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, adding to a maiden success, also over 1600m but on dirt at Al Ain in January 2018.
Doyle said: “That is the first time I have ridden the horse, but to be fair, the trainer was pretty confident and has his team in good form. They went pretty hard up front so I was happy to take my time and he really picked up nicely in the straight when he seemed to enjoy running past horses.”
VIDEO Maaly Al Reef win
A 2200m handicap restricted to horses foaled locally produced a nail biting conclusion with the judge required to separate Kirrane’s mount, AF Taraha and Morjanah Al Reef that both pounced on AF Al Montaqem in the final 150m. Kirrane was not to emulate his Al Ain achievement of a double, instead it was Doyle and Morjanah Al Reef (Bibi De Carrere), Al Hammadi and Al Ajban Stables celebrating a brace by the narrowest of margins, basically a flared nostril.
Settled well off the early pace, Doyle started to creep closer at the end of the back straight before making relentless progress in the final 350m, finding a gap on the rail which his willing partner was brave enough to go through, leading inside the final stages and just holding on. A 6-year-old mare, she was doubling her career tally in the process having previously won a 1600m Abu Dhabi maiden in March 2018.
“I was not sure if we had held on I must admit,” Doyle said. “It was very close, but my mare had her head down and her neck out having been brave to go through a gap on the rail. I finished third on her two weeks ago when she stayed on strongly over 1600m and she has seen this extra distance out well. It has been a good evening for the whole team.”