AF Ssayeb wins the Wathba Stud Farm Cup For Private Owners
5 March 2017, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Victorious in the world’s most valuable Purebred Arabian contest, the €1.2million Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown over 1600m in November, 2016, RB Burn registered a smooth success in Sunday’s 1400m Group 1 Liwa Oasis at Abu Dhabi.
In doing so he recorded his second Group 1 victory of the season in the capital for his owner, Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, trainer Eric Lemartinel, and jockey Gerald Avranche.
Settled well off the early pace set by his stable companion RB Torch under Royston Ffrench, he eased into contention as the leaders swung into the straight when Ain Jaloot took up the running.
After thwarting a determined challenge by AF Maqayes the 5-yr-old Majd Al Arab colt secured the front inside lead in the final 200m to win as expected.
“I was determined to find cover on him early on as he can be keen,” said Avranche. “Once he settled he travelled nicely so I was happy tracking AF Maqayes and he quickened nicely when I asked.”
Lemartinel added: “He will improve for that and will go to the Kahayla Classic in three weeks at Meydan Racecourse on Dubai World Cup day.”
Al Zahir (Madjani) owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, made his local debut a winning one, proving the best of eight opponents in the main support race, the 2200m Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R2, restricted to four-year-olds.
A winner once from just four starts in France, the 4-yr-old is now with Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and was ridden confidently by the owner’s retained jockey, Jim Crowley.
Settled in midfield, the pair made smooth progress approaching the home turn before committing at the top of the straight. They soon were in control and looks an interesting new recruit to the local scene.
“He has been going nicely at home so we were pretty hopeful,” said Crowley. “I know Sheikh Hamdan thinks a lot of him and he quickened nicely when I asked him. Hopefully he is a nice horse for next season.”
The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden won by Richard Mullen on the Ernst Oertel-trained AF Makerah jumping straight to the front taking control in a field of 15.
The main concern came from Al Huda under Tadhg O’Shea, throwing down a challenge during the straight but unable to get past.
AF Ssayeb (AF Al Buraq) under Dubai World Cup winning jockey Fernando Jara gave owner-breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah another win in the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s Wathba Stud Farm Cup For Private Owners race.
In the 1000-metre handicap, the 5-yr-old twas never headed, and his win also ensured trainer Marie Ritchie tasted her first success as a handler in the UAE.
ES Fatak under Tadhg O’Shea and AF Mukhifah under Antonio Fresu finished second and third respectively in the DH. 70,000 race.
Richie, a trainer from New Zealand and former jockey from Southland, had recently taken charge of the Oasis Stables of Musabah Al Muhairi who is serving a 12-month ban from the Emirates Racing Authority.
“Obviously I am delighted to get off the mark,” said Ritchie. “We were actually pretty confident as he has plenty of pace and Fernando gave him a great ride. There is one more race for him this season for which he needs to get an invitation but he should do as this was his second win this year,” said Ritchie.
The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden and Richard Mullen took the Ernst Oertel – trained AF Makerah (AF Al Buraq) straight to the front and very few of the other 15 were ever able to get competitive.
The main exception was Al Huda under Tadhg O’Shea, throwing down a challenge during the straight but unable to get past. It was a case of third time lucky for the winner finishing second on both her previous outings.
“She is a filly we like and it is nice to see her win after two good efforts in defeat,” said Oertel. “She has progressed with each run and will have a rest now with next season in mind.”
The win carries the colors of Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda as does AF Hakeem looking likely to complete a rapid double for owner and trainer in the following 1600m handicap.
AF Hakeem and Jesus Rosales attempted to make all and did lead almost the entire trip, only to be headed right on the line by Munaaf (Bibi De Carrere), delivered with a perfectly timed challenge by Harry Bentley for trainer, Ahmed Al Mehairbi.
“He is a horse with plenty of ability who is a good performer at this level,” said Bentley. “His three previous runs this season have been at Al Ain on the dirt and the return to turf has suited him. He stays further so I knew he would stay on and he kept finding for me in the closing stages.”
The only Thoroughbred contest was the finale, a 1600m handicap for which a full field of 16 went to post and it was the turn of Mullen to complete a double partnering Taaj for his main employer, Satish Seemar.