6 March 2016, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his retained jockey Paul Hanagan snared the big Purebred Arabian contest of the weekend, the Group 1 Liwa Oasis (1400m), at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, 6 March.
Ten went to the post in the Liwa Oasis but only three were key players with Shateh leading, then AF Mathmoon and Hanagan, and next stalking them were Tadhg O’Shea on Abhaar.
Abhaar found trouble early in the straight when Shateh under Harry Bentley injected a burst of pace into the race, but AF Mathmoon under Hanagan threw down a decisive challenge.
The five-year-old grey hit the front about 200 metres from home and was never going to be caught. He was registering his fifth win from just six starts and protecting unbeaten records, both on turf and over 1400m. His first three career wins were achieved in the colors of his breeder, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.
“He is a really nice horse and stuck his head down to fight,” said Hanagan. “Once we hit the straight I was always pretty happy we had things under control, and he certainly was not stopping at the line as I struggled to pull him up. It has been a brilliant weekend in what has been a great season.”
Al Muhairi completed a double when stable jockey Fernando Jara made all on the mare Love To Dance in the concluding 1200 metres handicap.
The main support race, the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown Round 3 (2400m) restricted to four-year-olds produced a remarkable finish as had the second round over 200 metres shorter a fortnight ago.
Sniper De Monlau’s fascination with the nearside rail in the Abu Dhabi straight was evident again and despite Royston Ffrench initially trying his utmost the Helal Al Alawi trainee was determined to drift right across the track as he has now done on all four career starts.
In the 1600 metres opening round of the Triple Crown he overcame his errant path to win but two weeks ago, in the middle round, it cost him the race when he failed, by a short-head, to catch Mahbooba.
Again, in a virtual carbon copy with Mahooba, the bay found his favorite rail and went straight for home, this time nailing Mahooba on the line.
“This horse has so much ability,” said Ffrench. “He really is very good but, for some reason, when he gets into the home straight he just wants to go left. There is no point fighting him as you will forfeit ground trying to straighten him and then, once on the rail, he runs on and tries his best.”
Khalid Khalia Al Nabooda may have sold AF Mathmoon to Sheikh Hamdan but is still enjoying an amazing season as an owner with horses he has bred himself, mostly by his own sire, AF Al Buraq.
The list includes AF Maqayes, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, victorious for the fifth time this season in the 1000 metres Wathba Stud Farm for private owners handicap under O’Shea. It was the owner’s 21st success of the campaign. The four-year-old has now won all three times he has tackled the minimum trip, adding this victory to success at Sharjah and Al Ain.
“He is a grand little horse,” said O’Shea. “He should improve as he has only had eight starts. I think he will now go for the Ruler Of Sharjah Trophy, their biggest race, next weekend.”
Frenchman Jean de Roualle, In his first season training from a base in Al Ain, opened his local account with the smooth victory of Dhamin in a 1600 metres conditions race. Ridden by Richard Mullen, Dhamin was losing his maiden tag on his seventh career start and his first locally. His final start when trained in France, was in Group Two company so he is clearly held in high regard. Sporting the colors of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he was slowly into his stride as the gates opened but soon in a good position in midfield. After making smooth progress on the home turn, Dhamin looked a bit short of room, briefly, but once in the clear soon led to win comfortably.
“He is a nice horse from France,” said Mullen. “The trainer was very concerned about him staying 1600 metres so I was as patient as I could be. I am very pleased to ride for Jean his first UAE winner as he is a very good trainer as he has shown in France over many years.”
It looks somewhat improbable at halfway, when, after a tardy start, he had more of his 15 rivals in front of him than behind, but the Saifaldin Deeb-trained Ramadi Al Rawasi was able to open his account, at the fifth attempt, in the opening 1400 metres maiden.
Unraced before November, he was placed on his previous two outings on dirt at Al Ain and this was only his second turf start.
Pat Dobbs, who does not ride many Purebred Arabians, was on board for what was, ultimately, a comfortable victory.
“The season has been going really well with the Doug Watson horses in great form,” said Dobbs. “This 1400 metres trip has suited this horse and he did it nicely.”
Mullen, the reigning Champion Jockey completed a double riding for his main employer, Satish Seemar on Cross Grain, winner of the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1400 metres handicap.