Rmmas scoops AED 5 million 2200m Group 1 HH The President Cup
9 February 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Racing in the capital on Sunday, 9 February 2020 was one of the most prestigious meetings staged throughout the season at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. It was highlighted by the AED 5 million 2200m Group 1 HH The President Cup won in thrilling fashion by Rmmas and Tadhg O’Shea, the jockey completing a double on the card after four races.
Settled in rear by the champion jockey, Rmmas (Mahabb) was visibly traveling strongly leaving the back straight from outside number 13, but with a wall of horses in front of him. O’Shea switched the 7-year-old entire out to challenge down the centre in the straight, the gap appearing when he needed it before locking horns with Al Zahir winner of the two previous renewals, Goshawke and Harrab. O’Shea drove his mount to lead with about 100m remaining and found a willing partner to land the lucrative prize for Sheikha Fatima bint Mansour Al Nahyan and Jean de Roualle, chased home by Al Zahir, Goshawke and Harrab.
Victorious, under O’Shea, in the course and distance prep on his previous start three weeks ago, this was the sixth career victory for the horse and fifth in the UAE since joining De Roualle.
“He is a very nice, strong horse who is relaxed, but can quicken,” said De Roualle, who saddled the same owner’s Loraa to win this in 2017. “He has a telling turn of acceleration for about 200m as he showed in the trial and again tonight with Tadhg riding him perfectly both times to deliver that telling burst when it mattered.”
O’Shea, landing the prize for the first time, added: “That was a lovely spare ride, so a big thank you to the connections. It was almost a carbon copy of the trial and things pretty much went smoothly throughout.”
Riding for his main employer His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Jim Crowley picked the right one in the Thoroughbred equivalent, the 1400m Listed HH The President Cup, combining with Ali Rashid Al Rayhi to land the spoils with Taamol, chased home by stable companion Yalail with Zainhom running on to snatch third to supply the owner a memorable 1-2-3. A 6-year-old gelded son of Helmet, Taamol was registering a fifth career victory, third in the UAE and was following up his success in the 1600m Listed The National Day Cup on his previous Abu Dhabi outing in December.
Restricted to 4-year-olds, the 1600m Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1 provided Ihtesham (AF ALBAHAR) with the perfect opportunity to maintain her unbeaten record, adding this trophy to previous Abu Dhabi victories in a 1400m and, over this course and distance, the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship seven weeks ago. Ridden on each occasion by Szczepan Mazur, she looks an exciting filly for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and owner Ben Shahwan Arabian Horse Stables. Drawn one, she was never far away, on the rail, before quickening stylishly to the front 500m from home, soon dashing clear and with the race soon in safekeeping.
“She is a lovely, special filly,” Mazur said. “She is a huge horse who has improved with each run and must have the scope to get even better which is very exciting.”
The opening 1200m maiden was won by Shafaf (TH Richie), produced to lead close home by Sam Hitchcott having, after a slow start, raced in rear throughout the first half of the race before making smooth progress leaving the home turn. At this stage the early leader, JAP Nadih had shot clear under Fernando Jara, but was swamped by three or four rivals passing the 200m pole with Hitchcott’s mount grabbing the initiative in the final 100m. Trained by Ahmed Al Meharibi for HE Mohd Ahmed Al Yousef, the 4-year-old was having just a second career start having finished tenth, but beaten less than five lengths on his debut over 1400m, here at Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, when again slowly away.
Hitchcott said: “I rode him the first day and he has learned a lot from that experience. He was not the fastest away again, over a trip I thought would be on the sharp side, but they went quick which has suited him. He actually traveled well and carried me into the race nicely, so it was a very pleasing performance.”
For horses in private ownership, the 1200m handicap, went to the powerful team of owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, his main trainer Ernst Oertel and retained jockey Tadhg O’Shea courtesy of Noof KB (AF Albahar). Settled well off the early pace among the 12 runners, the 7-year-old mare closed stylishly at the top of the straight before sprinting to the front inside the final 100m.
It was a fifth career victory for the mare, third over course and distance and O’Shea said: “The yard are in good form and everything went to plan with the race contested at a fast pace which she really likes. To be fair, she is an easy mare to ride and one of those that makes my job easy on the racecourse.”
Owner and trainer were celebrating a double after the finale, a 1400m handicap for horses foaled in the UAE, combining this time with Antonio Fresu who delivered AF Mekhbat (AF AL BURAQ) to lead inside the final 200m to post a relatively comfortable success, his second from just five starts. Homebred, the 5-year-old entire had posted his previous victory over this 1400m trip, but on dirt at Al Ain, landing a maiden on just his second appearance in March of last year. This was his fourth outing of the current campaign and second in 2020.
Fresu said: “You always know you have a good chance in these races for this team and I was fortunate enough to get this opportunity on a nice young horse and am grateful to connections for the opportunity.”