Feature Story



By Suleiman Altaf - 

While Mubeed may have stolen the show in the Al Ain Derby, the feature event on the programme, it was the Panamanian rider Oscar Chavez who proved a star in the saddle at Al Ain for their Saturday meet as he brought up a fantastic quartet on the Purebred Arabian-exclusive eight-race card in the UAE’s ‘garden’ city.

Chavez was quick to head to the winner’s enclosure after guiding Caesar Hawran to a game neck victory in the second race of the evening, the 1800m handicap for 0-80 rated horses. The Ahmed Al Mehairbi trainee was amongst those in the vanguard and faced sustained pressure on both wings down the length of the stretch but kept on gamely close home from the fast-finishing Alsaeid (Sam Hitchcott/Ibrahim Al Hadhrami) and persistent pursuer AF Al Moreeb (Bernardo Pinheiro/Qaiss Aboud). 

It was three in a row for Chavez subsequently landing each of the 1600m maiden and the twin mile handicaps that followed. Partnering Al Mehairbi’s Meezaan who was fourth on debut over course last week, victory for the four-year-old completed an early double for both his trainer and rider. It was a straightforward success with Nayyif (Qais Al Busaidi/Majed Al Jahoori) a distant three-and-a-half length in second. 

This was followed by Jazeelah lowering the colours of the 108-rated duo of SS Izz Dubai (Connor Beasley/Al Hadhrami) and RB Frynchh Dude (Al Busaidi/Abubakar Daud) who finished in the same order behind the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained six-year-old as Chavez led them a merry dance from the front. A cosy length was the official margin of victory for the mare who was last seen finishing fourth in the Group 2 Liwa Oasis at Abu Dhabi. 

Chavez landed the quartet after partnering Jean-Claude Pecout’s Haddaf Al Wathba to a cosy success in the filly and mare-restricted mile handicap. Mascotte Al Maury (Mohammed Daggash) and Sandro Paiva had a clear advantage entering the final furlong, but the Al Wathba mare ate up on the lead with every stride to record an almost two length victory ultimately. 


Having disappointed in the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic when well-favoured, Mubeed relished the switch back to the dirt, the surface on which he won his debut by an eye-catching eight lengths at Sharjah, to land the AED 100,000 Prestige Al Ain Derby. 

While he showed plenty of speed on that occasion, it was a contrasting style of victory here as he was nestled at the rear of midfield but picked up impressively when Paiva asked from his mount in the straight. JAP Awqat (Beasley/Irfan Ellahi) and AH Haizum (Chavez/Al Mehairbi), eventual second and third, looked to have the race settled between them but the Jaber Bittar pupil had the sustained momentum to get up in the shadows of the post and score by a neck.


Jebel Hafeet, the 1400m maiden, was split into two divisions and each one served as the catalyst for two consistent horses coming out of their place trials with Shurooq Al Wathba and Magic Touch finally graduating at the seventh and sixth time of asking, respectively.

Shurooq Al Wathba benefitted from the step back up to the 1400m as she needed every inch of the final furlong to nail down Es Hadid (Gabriele Malune/Ibrahim Aseel) and Hazem Al Wathba (Saif Al Balushi/Khalifa Al Neyadi) who were engaged in a duel of their own. The Al Jahoori-trainee picked up stylishly under Pinheiro as the race entered its decisive moments to score by a comfortable length.

Division Two went the way of Al Ajban Stables’ Magic Touch (Abdallah Al Hammadi) who finally got his head in front under Irish jockey Andrew Slattery. The win was not far from being turned into yet another heartbreaking place finish as Haddaf Al Wathba and Al Balushi flew down the center of the track in pursuit of the winner but ran out of real estate to go down by a diminishing neck with Sidara (Pinheiro/Aboud) back in third. 

As Tadgh O’Shea, who has the first say aboard Ernst Oertel’s runners, was on his travels to fulfil riding duties at the Saudi Cup, apprentice Marcelino Rodrigues picked up the ride aboard AF Estatha and he made sure it was a winning one with a mammoth five length victory in the opening 1600m maiden. The Oertel trainee has been kept busy this season and only made his previous start last week when finishing second at the course. This time, though, he was not for passing as he continued to find plenty in the straight and in fact, only lengthened his advantage from the well-fancied Raad Albrooq (Beasley/Al Hadhrami).