By Duane Fonseca
Majed Al Jahoori and Bernardo Pinheiro took the plaudits at Abu Dhabi Sunday evening, claiming the lion's share of the prize fund in the Dh1 million Emirates Championship after Ajrad Athbah powered home in the straight to win the 2200m PA Group 1 contest with relative ease.
Pat Cosgrave set a furious pace aboard Nisreen Mahgoub’s Reem Baynounah, but after his mount ran out of steam turning for home with Pinheiro applying the heat aboard his 5yo AF Albahar entire the race to the finish was thrown open to all.
However, Pinheiro and Ajrad Athbah seemed to have the momentum with them as they flew to take over and worked their way to finish with a length and three quarters spare from Salem Al Kitbi’s Mujeeb, the ride of Richard Mullen. A short head back in third was Izadi Star for Helal Alalawi and Cristian Demuro. It was one of two wins for Pinheiro on the card.
His first arrived aboard Qaiss Aboud’s AF Heraqle who drifted off a bit in the straight, perhaps out of boredom having gone quickly under Pinheiro, with the Brazilian rider getting him under control in time to win the Khalifa City 1400m handicap ahead of Ibrahim Al Hadhrami’s fast-advancing Astral Del Sol, ultimately the runner-up, a length and a quarter behind under Al Balushi.
Earlier, making her fifth career start in the card-opening Al Shamkha, Ruwani showed a terrific turn of foot to get away from the pack in the straight after sitting just off the pace to win the 1400m maiden by a country mile for trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi and Al Moatasem Al Balushi. Aboud’s AS Shamoos was second under Royston Ffrench, eight lengths behind.
The finish in the Masdar City 1600m handicap for UAE bred horses came in time for Mahgoub trainee AF Yatwy, whose comfortable lead in the straight was cut to a short head despite jockey Pat Cosgrave throwing the kitchen sink in a bid to get the Abu Dhabi Racing owned 5yo entire to poke in ahead of Al Hammadi’s Rawaat Al Reef, the ride of Gabriele Malune, stealer of second from Barjah on the line.
Ernst Oertel trained AF Alzahi scored big time when claiming a first career success on what was his sixth career start when tackling the Wathba Stallions Cup 2200m handicap, defending UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea picking the right one among the three saddled by the South African, who enjoyed a 1-2 after AF Al Baher ran in next second, eight lengths behind, under Marcelino Rodrigues.
O’Shea was the other rider to sign off with a double after the Irishman got Bhupat Seemar’s Webinar to nick the card-ending Shakbout City 2400m handicap, the only contest for Thoroughbreds, by a length and three quarters from Ismail Mohammed’s Ahesta Bero with apprentice Qais Al Busaidi in the saddle.