14 March 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ A cracking card at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening was highlighted by the 2200m Group 1 Emirates Championship which produced a thrilling finish with last year’s winner, BF Mughader, Rmmas and Somoud locked together in a real battle with 150m remaining before Somoud snatched the spoils near the winning line.
Rmmas was second ahead of BF Mughader, weakening in the final 75m, but the spoils went to Somoud (Munjiz), ridden by Pat Cosgrave in the colors of Yas Racing and Ahmed Al Mehairbi, the trainer’s ninth winner of the season. A 6-year-old entire homebred, Somoud arrived in the UAE as a maiden after seven starts in his native France, opening his tally on the Al Ain dirt last April. He has now won half of his ten local outings and his last three, his previous career highlight victory on his latest appearance, over 1600m, in the Group 3 Al Ain Mile.
Cosgrave, riding the horse for the first time, said: “This is an improving horse who has been consistent all season. The connections told me to race quite handily and that he would fight for me when I asked him which is actually what happened. That was a good, brave effort in what appeared a strong renewal of a prestigious prize. Hopefully I get to ride the horse again!”
The Thoroughbred equivalent and biggest such race in the capital all season, the 2200m Abu Dhabi Championship, produced a virtual carbon copy with defending champion, GM Hopkins and Cosgrave duelling with Seniority over the final 100m, the pair having burned off Hakeem shortly before. As was the case in the Emirates Championship, Richard Mullen was the jockey denied by Cosgrave. In repeating their victory of 12 months ago, they secured their place in UAE folklore for trainer Jaber Ramadhan and owner Ramadhan Stable by becoming the first dual winner of a race inaugurated way back in 1993.
In a race run at a fast pace, set by Jaaref who was clear with 800m to run before weakening with about 250m remaining, GM Hopkins raced in about fifth before closing in to challenge halfway up the straight, a move mirrored by Mullen on Seniority with Hakeem also in contention. He tired in the final 100m, leaving Muzdawaj to fly home and snatch third.
A 9-year-old gelded son of Dubawi, it was a seventh career victory for Ramadhan’s stable star who also won five times in Britain when trained by John Gosden.
Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R3
The Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R3 over 2400m and restricted to 4-year-olds, attracted a field of nine. Only one really mattered as Basmah (Bibi De Carrere), one of two fillies in the race, was sent straight to the front by Fabrice Veron and the pair stayed there to record a fairly comfortable success. Trained by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the filly was doubling her career tally having shed her maiden tag, a fortnight ago, when Veron employed similar tactic in the 2200m Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R2. Veron always looked to have things under control and once he committed for home early in the short straight the race was soon in safekeeping.
Lemartinel said: “She is a nice filly who we knew would stay, so the plan was always to be positive on her and Fabrice has, again, given her a great ride. He has ridden her in all six starts, so knows the filly well and he always seemed happy throughout the race.”
UAE Arabian Derby
Also restricted to 4-year-olds, but over 2200m, the UAE Arabian Derby, a Prestige contest was won in fine style by Ihtesham (AF Albahar), completing a double on the card for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and jockey Szczepan Mazur. One of two fillies among the ten runners, she was settled in midfield before making stylish progress on the home turn and running on strongly in the straight to lead just over 150m from home.
Owned by Ben Shahwan Arabian Horse Stables, she has now won all four career starts, all on the capital turf under Mazur, and looks an exciting prospect. He previous two victories had both been in Listed races over 1600m, namely the Abu Dhabi Championship and, five weeks ago, the Arabian Triple Crown R1.
Al Hadhrami said: “That was a very pleasing win and she did it nicely. She is a very good filly as she has shown again and I am delighted for everyone concerned. We are really enjoying a good season.”
Mazur added: “We were pretty sure the extra distance would not be an issue and she had already beaten colts, so that was not a worry. I was happy throughout the race and she picked up well when I asked her. It was a great effort from a very good filly.”
It was a case of third time lucky for Ferdous (Josco Du Cayrou), the cozy winner of the 1200m maiden opener, for the Royal Cavalry of Oman and Al Hadhrami. Settled just behind the leaders by Mazur, the pair had only Majd Al Megirat in front of them entering the final 300m and they swooped past that rival with about 175m remaining before pulling clear to win stylishly. Fourth on her debut over 1400m in November, the homebred 4-year-old filly was then well beaten in the 1600m Listed Abu Dhabi Championship, both races here in the capital and won by her stable companion, the aforementioned Ihtesham. She was returning from a two-month break having not raced since December.
Al Hadhrami said: “Our horses have been in really good form most of the season, but especially so in recent weeks. She showed plenty of speed on her debut, so we hoped the 1200m would suit her and the cheekpieces have helped. We like this filly and she is a big horse, so we would hope she can improve as she matures.”
The finale, a 1600m conditions race for horses in private ownership, was dominated by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda whose first colours were carried to a smooth victory by Tadhg O’Shea riding AF Al Bairaq (AF AL BURAQ), trained by Ernst Oertel and chased home by the same owner’s AF Momtaz saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri.
Homebred, the 6-year-old entire was having just his ninth outing and was winning for the second time having won the 2018 Emirates Colts Classic, a Prestige contest, over this Abu Dhabi 1600m.
Al Nabooda said: “That was very pleasing as I bred both horses as well, so it is a particularly good result for my whole operation.”