By Suleiman Altaf -
It was an evening to remember for Brazilian rider Bernardo Pinheiro who reached the landmark of 100 winners in the UAE after notching up a double at Al Ain Friday.
A totally controlled ride on the debutant Sa’ari in race four brought up the milestone for Bernado Pinheiro, riding for his boss Majed Al Jahoori in the colors of YAS Racing.
Their partnership has yielded winners aplenty over the years and this victory is sure to remain in the memory for quite some time.
Always well positioned tracking leader Al Nasr, Sa’ari was committed for home at the top of the stretch and responded to every call from his rider, gamely fending off a late challenge from stablemate Zayd to produce a 1-2 for the Al Jahoori stable.
Pinheiro was on the scoresheet again swiftly afterwards, this time partnering Fadiah Al Wathba to an effortless eight-and-a-half length victory in race six, a 1400m all-aged maiden.
Having competed in Group races last season, it was always a matter of when she would shed her maiden tag and, after breaking smartly, it was an all-the-way victory for the Al Jahoori-pupil who will have stronger assignments ahead of her.
The feature event witnessed a thrilling finish between Ss Izz Dubai and Salb with the latter eventually getting the better of his stablemate under rider Saif Al Balushi who was recording a first winner of the season.
With 1600m being his optimal trip, Ss Izz Dubai felt the pinch in the final furlong after dictating much of the race and succumbed to a late finishing kick from Salb, going down by just under two lengths.
It was race five, though, that had a healthy crowd on the edge of their seats as Jules Mobian almost pulled off a heroic victory aboard Naajeeb. Losing his stirrups midway through the race, Mobian was determined to ride his mount to victory, and it looked like happening in the home straight as Naajeeb gradually diminished Ocelot’s advantage to grab the lead in the final 50m.
However, Pat Cosgrave and Otina had other ideas as the pair came from out of the clouds to grab the win in the dying strides.
Whichever way the result may have gone, the race has managed to produce a nominee for ‘Best Ride of the Season’.
The in-form Michael Costa found himself in the winner’s enclosure once again after Makfoul landed the opening thoroughbred maiden on the card. Partnered by stable first choice Ben Coen, Makfoul saw no other rival after overtaking runner-up Oasis Moon for the lead halfway through the race.
With this victory, Ben Coen secured his second winner in the UAE having won the finale on Sadeedd at Meydan last week.
Three-year-old Oasis Moon (Bernardo Pinheiro/Musabbeh Al Mheiri) finished second with Alwareeth (Royston Ffrench/Salem bin Ghadayer) producing a late rally to grab third on the post.
In a card full of dominant winners, Al Asayl’s AA Lahab, the mount of Sam Hitchcott, recorded the biggest winning margin crossing the wire a mammoth 11 lengths ahead of the second Al Laith.
Despite being under persuasion prior to the home turn, the Dennis O’Brien-trainee found plenty when asked to lengthen up the straight and should be a nice prospect for the yard.
The finale, a 1400m handicap for 0-80 rated Purebred Arabians, was won in convincing fashion by Desert. The five-year-old was recording his second career victory and provided his rider Saif Al Balushi with a double on the card and his trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi a first winner for the season.
Racing returns at Al Ain on December 1st to kick off the opening day of the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival.