13 March 2016, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ On the next to last meeting of the season at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club the Wathba Stud Farm Cup for Private Owners was won by the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained AF Ssayeb (AF AL BURAQ) in a 1200m handicap. A maiden winner at Sharjah, also over 1200m, on his second and previous outing, he and Jara made all on that occasion and were able to repeat here.
“He is pacey and quick from the gates so the low draw was ideal,” said Jara. “He showed a good attitude at Sharjah last time so I was happy to be positive as I knew he would respond for me.”
It was the 22nd success of the campaign for owner-breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda who also provided the second, AF Ashras. Both first and second are sons of Al Nabooda’s own sire, AF AL Buraq. AF Ashras is trained by Ernst Oertel.
An excellent third on her one previous turf outing, here at Abu Dhabi, but twice well beaten on dirt at Al Ain, the Abdallah Al Hammadi-trained Bushrah Al Reef finished with great purpose under Sam Hitchcott to land the opening 1400m maiden.
“The rain has really helped the ground,” said Hitchcott. “It is lovely out there which has really suited her as it was pretty quick underfoot when she ran here before. She finished strongly and stays further so can hopefully build on this.”
Al Hammadi and his main owner’s, Al Ajban Stables, looked poised to complete a rapid double when their Monawer and Richard Mullen led 300m from home in the following 1400m handicap. However, they were mown down as the post loomed by Harry Bentley and Madjanthis (MADJANI x Dixies Delight), trained by Ernst Oertel. A winner of a 1200m course handicap on his seasonal reappearance in December, it was his second UAE victory and third career success.
“He is not the most straightforward but I was always pretty confident,” said Bentley. “I knew I had plenty of horse under me and he ran on strongly when I asked him.”
Bentley was soon back in the winner’s enclosure after partnering Haizoom (Bibi De Carrere) to victory in the following 1600m fillies and mares’ conditions contest. Trained by Nacer Samiri for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bentley’s mount looked set for a comfortable victory when, taken to the rail, he eased past Deyaar with only about 100m left.
Deyaar fought back under Tadhg O’Shea and the final verdict was just a short-head. It was a second career victory for the mare and first, at the 11th attempt, on turf.
“She takes her time to get things done but is a decent mare,” said Bentley. “The second fought back but I think she had a bit left in the tank.”
The owner and trainer celebrated a double, this time with Royston Ffrench performing the steering aboard Da’Areen(Bibi De Carrere), easy winner of the following 1600m handicap. A third career victory, both her previous wins were also at Abu Dhabi, most recently over this course and distance at the track’s penultimate meeting last season.
“She has taken me there going very nicely,” said Ffrench. “She is a decent mare at this level and won well.”
The race had been delayed for just over half an hour after an incident in the paddock resulted in jockey Gerald Avranche being transported to hospital. Clerk of the course, Pat Buckley, was later able to report Avranche was ‘in good spirits but had suffered two hairline fractures to his hip’.
It had been a frustrating evening for O’Shea and Lemartinel, until the finale, a 1600m maiden, which they combined to win with Snaffy (Dormane). Having only his second career outing, Snaffy showed his inexperience before knuckling down in the straight and eventually winning comfortably in the colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“He is a nice, young horse, but still a big baby,” said O’Shea. “His debut was on dirt when he unseated me before the race but he has taken well to the turf here. He should have more to offer next season.”
The 1600m Thoroughbred handicap, which looked competitive on paper, was won by Invincible Strike.