Sniper On Target

Reserved win in rich feature

ABU DHABI EQUESTRIAN CLUB`S highlight race threw up a dramatic finish on Sunday night.
Sniper De Monlau had put paid to his rivals when hitting the front with 300 metres left to run in the Listed Arabian Triple Crown Round One (1600m) before suddenly swerving towards the outside of the track.
Defeat appeared to have been snatched from the jaws of victory but, thankfully for supporters of the four-year-old, his apprentice rider, Hector Crouch did not hit the panic button and was able to straighten his mount’s errant path and maintain momentum to regain the lead again, grasping the spoils in the final 50 metres.

Trained by The National Stables-based Helal Al Alawi, Snipe De Monlau had initially been second reserve for the AED 250,000 feature before two non-runners allowed him into the field.
The French-bred galloper had been placed at his only previous start and the lack of experience was clear when he made life tricky for his young jockey.

“He is certainly a quirky character,” said Crouch. “He ran very wide on his first start also, but he has plenty of ability and is a nice prospect.
“You would hope he can build on this and he could be a nice horse for the future.”
Fellow apprentice jockey George Buckell has enjoyed an excellent Abu Dhabi season thus far and his run continued when Somalian won the Al Khazna Handicap (1600m), the only Thoroughbred race on the card.

The young rider`s sixth winner at the capital city track took some work when he was forced to motivate his mount quite early on before switching wide leaving the back straight.
The Ismail Mohammed- prepared seven-year-old responded admirably sweeping around rivals on the final bend then challenging down the centre of the track to post a one-and-a-quarter lengths winning break.

“He took a while to get going,” said Buckell. “But when he did get into stride he has travelled strongly and really picked up in the straight.”

AF Tawag claimed the longest winning margin of the night when he won the Al Mafraq Maiden (1600m), the opening race of the card.
The Ernst Oertel six-year-old had his 12 rivals 18 lengths in arrears at the finish after leading all the way for jockey Richard Mullen.

“From a bad draw we were able to get across and secure the lead early on which he has really enjoyed,” said Mullen.
“He seems a nice type for the future but it was probably a weak race and one he was entitled to win.
“It was a lovely spare ride with the Oertel horses running well and the owner and breeder, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, enjoying a great season and reaping the rewards from his breeding operation.”

The prominent Emarati owner-breeder secured a double when the impressive AF Al Sally won for the second time this season, landing the night`s edition of the Al Wathba Stud Farm Cup (1200m).

Trained at Oasis Stables in Dubai by Musabah Al Muhairi and ridden by stable jockey Fernando Jara the five-year-old settled in midfield before looming up dangerously entering the straight.

Jara did not need to get too serious to send him to the front before powering home to win decisively.

“He is a nice horse,” said Jara. “I was always pretty happy during the race and he won nicely. He has not had much racing and can hopefully continue improving.”

Vastly experienced jockey Pat Dobbs, who is very selective when it comes to Purebred Arabian mounts, displayed perfect timing aboard Najem S’Heel whom he produced to lead close home in the Al Jazira Handicap (1200m).

Trained on the Sharjah track by Saifaldin Deeb, Dobbs’ mount appeared to hold little chance as the runners turned for home but ran on strongly to lead metres from the line.

It was a seventh career win for the horse and his second over course and distance.

“I was hoping to sit closer to the pace but they went very quick,” said Dobbs. “Luckily he picked up nicely and ran on well to lead where it mattered.”

Nashmee did not appear to be the most resolute flashing his tail on more than occasion during the running of the concluding Sweihan Handicap (2200m).

After being settled in rear for the first half of the race by Jockeys` Championship leader Tadhg O`Shea, the Eric Lemartinel-trained six-year-old began making taking progress 700 metres from the judge.
At the top of the straight, O’Shea sent him for home and they won by four-and-a-quarter lengths handing owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan his fifteenth winner of the season so far, two clear of Al Nabooda at the top of the Purebred Arabian owner`s list.

The meeting was staged on a very rain softened track with Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club’s Clerk Of The Course Pat Buckley reporting: “At one stage earlier, with all the rain about, the meeting was in a bit of jeopardy but I walked the course twice and was happy enough.”

The track condition was described officially as Yielding.