Feature Story

Riding masterclass from Pinheiro aboard Aldhaja, doubles for Oertel, O’Shea, Al Nabooda

Riding masterclass from Pinheiro aboard Aldhaja, doubles for Oertel, O’Shea, Al Nabooda Feb 22, 2024

By Duane Fonseca - 

Bernardo Pinheiro timed his ride to perfection aboard Aldjaha to win the Al Salam 0-80 handicap, the only Thoroughbred contest and one of the main events on the six-race card at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Thursday night.

Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, the five-year-old War Front entire was able to reverse his course and distance form with Ala Kaifi in the 2400m contest having finished fourth behind the Ismail Mohammed trainee two starts earlier.

Pinheiro rode Aldhaja mid-divison and asked him to improve turning for home and as he went he was followed by Desert Snake, bidding from way behind. Another Mohammed trainee, Desert Snake, looked like he would do better than his second behind stablemate Ala Kaifi, but once Pinheiro heard them close in, he shook Aldhaja again and got a further kick out of him.

The pair showed their rivals a clean pair of heels as they finished with two-and-a-quarter lengths to spare, Ahmad bin Harmash’s Lost Gold (Connor Beasley) doing well to snatch the runners-up spot off Desert Snake, the ride of Adrie de Vries.

Racing got underway with the Al Bateen 1600m maiden for UAE bred horses which saw Eric Lemartinel’s Njoud digging deep under Jules Mobian to find that little bit more that would ensure victory by a neck ahead of Ahmed Al Mehairbi’s Kombat Hipolyte, who refused to give up until the end under Ben Coen.

Denied in the opener with Kombat Hipolyte, Al Rahmani Racing’s colours found success in the Al Khaleej 0-90 handicap over 1200m where Al Laith produced a solid turn of foot to run out a dominant four-and-a-quarter length victor with AF Marmuq filling in at second for Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea. 

The script repeated in the third event of the evening, the 2200m Al Nahyan maiden, with the previously second-best trainer-jockey pair going one better.  

This time it was Oertel-O’Shea, who found themselves on target with AF Aatiya, who swept home late to poke his nose in front on the line and deny Hamad Al Marar’s Gabriele Malune ridden Rebelle Du Loup by a short head. AF Aatiya’s success was the first part of a double for Oertel, O’Shea and Al Nabooda on the night. 

The trio’s second success was earned by AF Al Baher, who won the 2200m Wathba Stallions Cup 0-65 handicap, the penultimate race of the evening, doing what he had to do to hold on from a posse of late challengers, that included teammate and stable companion AF Al Sarem (Marcelino Rodrigues), who was three quarters of a length back.

Rookie trainer Dennis O’Brien also managed to take his first season tally to 11 after Al Etihad under a textbook-perfect ride from Andrew Slattery saw off his rivals easily to score by a length-and-a-half from Meeqat (Al Mehairbi/Bernardo Pinheiro) in the Al Karamah 0-80 handicap 2200m for UAE-bred horses.