Pat Comerford -
The UAE last week hosted, across both breeds of horse, the biggest weekend of racing so far this season. A jam-packed triple header featuring action from Al Ain and Jebel Ali was capped off with the glittering Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown meeting at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Crowds poured into Al Ain on Friday evening for the beginning of a big weekend and were treated to an enthralling running of the listed feature, the 1800m contest sponsored by DCT
Following their win in the Bani Yas with Najm Al Wathba the week before at Meydan, the in-form stable of Majed Al Jahoori tasted more success with Faaris winning impressively for Yas Racing.
The combination of Al Jahoori and rider Bernardo Pinheiro has not gone unnoticed, in the formative stages of the season; the combination already striking at a very healthy percentage.
UAE racing fans, indeed, onlookers from around the world, were also delighted to see a winner at the meeting for rider Richard Mullen who only recently returned following his injury from a fall at Saratoga back in July. Mullen guided Caram’bar to victory for the Deeb stable in the third event on the program, a real feel-good moment on the evening for all.
National Day celebrations were at an all-time high from the moment the crowds arrived at Jebel Ali. A superb day of racing and entertainment was on display to celebrate this great nation and it was a true credit to JARC and their organising committee.
Local trainer Michael Costa and stable rider Ben Coen guided two winners to victory across the meeting for Sheikh Ahmed; Mozahim in the 1000m dash before Zaammit took out one of the 1600m affairs in what could have been the most impressive win of the afternoon.
The irresistible force, Connor Beasley, took riding honors for the meeting with three winners, and is a name we have been seeing plenty of early in the season. Crowd numbers were high as always and the card provided a great aperitif to the Sunday program at Abu Dhabi.
It was the dulcet tones of British presenter and commentator Derek Thompson who welcomed all on course to Abu Dhabi for the big night, with ‘Thommo’ treating an expectant and swelling crowd to his full repertoire.
Across the seven races, healthy prize money was on offer and fields were at capacity for all bar one race with connections hoping to get their slice of the pie.
With the weight of prizemoney on offer and many international runners in town, the riding ranks were stacked and French-based Italian rider Cristian Demuro made his presence felt early in the program.
A race-to-race double aboard HM Alchahine for the Alalawi yard - winning the second event by a convincing margin – before he lifted Jazeelah in the late stages to nab the highly-rated Ekleel Athbah in the final bound.
HM Jalfane, who was unfortunately disqualified for weighing in light in the Jewel Crown Prep, did not make the Group 1 field, but stormed home to victory in the Group 3 curtain raiser under Amur Al Rasbi to take the winner’s cheque of $500000AED.
The AED5million dollar feature race was all that it shaped up to be with internationals proving to be the strongest on the night courtesy of a French-bred first four in the event.
The field were highlighted by the runner at the top of the order, the Qatar-based entire, Abbes off a rating of 122 after entering the mounting yard looking a picture.
The six-year-old jumped well from gate one under Mickael Barzalona and was shut off nicely in the run four back the fence. Run at a genuine pace thanks to leader Elaf, Abbes was guided off the rail when the race started to heat up with 600m to go and, in a matter of strides, he hit the front and raced away to record yet another top-level win in effortless fashion.
Connections and the crowd were in awe of the horse and his performance, a superstar who we hope to see racing in the UAE soon again. The meeting was capped off with the Listed mile event for the thoroughbreds and, with a heavy hand in the race through a strong Shadwell presence courtesy of five of the runners across four stables, Her Highness Shiekha Hissa graced the track with her presence for the race.Fortunately, it was the famous blue and white colours who enjoyed success in the race with Laneqash prevailing for Bhupat Seemer, with who else but Jim Crowley in the saddle who has had so much success for connections over the years. San Donato who won the race last year for Sheikh Obaid ran a great in second for Doug Watson and Patrick Dobbs, only going down a neck at the line.
The evening and weekend was brought to a close with many, I’m sure, eager for next season’s Jewel Crown to be here as soon as possible. All three clubs hosted outstanding events in their own right and will all have a well earned rest this weekend with a sole Meydan meeting being the only scheduled event this Friday night.