Abu Dhabi doubles for Mullen and Al Nabooda

Shateh wins the feature
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Dream Return for Emirati Apprentice Al Mazrooei

Racing returned to Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday evening and it was jockey Richard Mullen who returned triumphant in the feature, sporting the colours of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mansour Al Nahyan.

Mullen made all aboard the Majed Al Jahouri-trained Shateh in the featured 1600m Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Prepo.

Shateh was continuing a trend established on Sunday evening which saw horses that raced prominently landing the spoils and he found plenty for pressure with Mullen forced to get serious in the closing stages to repel the challenge of AF Maqayes.

Winner of Abu Dhabi’s Group 3 Al Ruwais over 1000m last year, Shateh also chased home subsequent Kahayla Classic winner, AF Mathmoon, in both the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas on the Meydan dirt and then, back at Abu Dhabi, in the 1400m Group 1 Liwa Oasis.

It was a gutsy performance from the winner who was completing a double for his jockey.

“We knew coming here he had some very good form in the book,” said Mullen. “He likes to be ridden positively so that was always the plan and he ran on strongly in the closing stages when the second horse threatened a challenge late on.”

The jockey initiated his double with a similarly hard-fought success aboard AF Ashras who won a 1400m conditions race for Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.

Winner of a 1200m maiden on the Sharjah dirt in December of last year, this was a second career victory for Oertel’s charge who saw out the trip well and is clearly versatile with regards to both trip and underfoot conditions.

“I am lucky enough to be riding for Mr Al Nabooda and Ernst this season,” said Mullen. “So it is obviously nice to get this first winner on the board and hopefully it will be the first of many in a fruitful alliance.

“The horse has plenty of ability and showed great determination this evening so I would like to think there is more to come from him.”

Ironically, Mullen and Oertel were denied in the opening 1400m maiden when their AF Marrah found the same owner’s AF Monsef, too good.

Fernando Jara, on the winner, stalked Mullen throughout the majority of the contest before sweeping past 200m from home to win comfortably.

AF Marrah was never in danger of losing second in a race the Al Nabooda pair dominated from the outset.

Saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, the debutant winner was given a positive ride by Jara who clearly knew he was on a decent youngster.

Al Nabooda said: “The trainer was confident of a good run as he thinks this is a nice horse.

“I have a lot of young horses this season, divided between three trainers who have been told to give them as much time as they need and not to rush them.”

The powerful trio of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, his Al Asayl Stables-based trainer Eric Lemartinel and Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, rarely leave Abu Dhabi empty handed and combined with RB Dixie Burning, who victorious in a 2200m handicap.

“This was my first ride for Al Asayl tonight so it is great to get an early winner on the board,” said O’Shea. “She found plenty for pressure and has seen out this longer trip well.”

The finale, a 2200m handicap and only Thoroughbred race on the card, provided Emirati apprentice, Saeed Al Mazrooei, a dream return to the saddle.

Having his first ride back after completing his National Service, he steered Mutual Force, trained by his main employer, Ali Rashid Al Rayhi to a narrow victory.

The jockey said: “It is nice to be back and what a great way to return. This horse goes well fresh and likes it here at Abu Dhabi so I was hopeful of a big run.

“Ali has always really supported me so I am delighted to ride a winner for him.”

The 1600m maiden was turned into a procession by Sanad, a successful debutant for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan who also bred the colt.

Jumped straight to the front by Adrie De Vries, they had the vast majority of the field in trouble shortly after the halfway point and had the race in safe keeping early in the straight. It was a first winner, with his second runner, of the season for trainer, Jean de Roualle.

“It was a nice performance,” said De Vries. “You never know how strong these races are but he felt like a decent young horse who is only going to improve for the experience.”