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Championship Takes Honours in Abu Dhabi National Day Cup

Colm O`Donoghue Rides First Winner at Harmash Stable Jockey

Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club’s Listed National Day Cup was claimed on Sunday evening by jockey, Colm O’Donoghue aboard Championship giving him a first victory as stable jockey for trainer, Ahmad Bin Harmash.

Second in the course and distance prep race three weeks ago, behind Shamaal Nibras, Championship was able to reverse that form emphatically with an ultra smooth success from that rival who was a clear second himself.

Having just his 11th ride of the season, O’Donoghue, who won the 2012 UAE Derby aboard Daddy Long Legs for trainer, Aidan O’Brien, with whom he has been associated for many years, never looked to have a moment’s worry in what was, ultimately, a comfortable victory.

“What a way to get off the mark in a new job,” said O’Donoghue. “We have a great team at Al Aasfa Stables and I have really enjoyed my time so far. I am delighted to ride a big winner for them early doors.

“Championship ran really well from a bad draw in the prep so the team were pretty confine coming here and he did that in good style.”

Also on the card was the Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup and this provided something of a surprise.

Unable to get to the front, the hot favourite, Thakif, failed to fire and wilted in the final 300m having chased a furious gallop set by jockey Jesus Rosales and Hamza.

With half of the eight runners seemingly going too fast throughout the first part of the race, the picture changed dramatically in the final 300m when Fernando Jara was able to produce Sharaf Al Reef with a decisive challenge, having been among the backmarkers during the first 1200m.

Trained by Ahmad Al Hammadi, who was completing a double on the card, Sharaf Al Reef was registering a fifth, and by far most important, career success. All five have come over the 1600m track at Abu Dhabi.

“Conditions obviously really suit him,” said Jara. “They went quick early on and he has run on strongly in the final 300m to win nicely.”

Sarab Al Reef who was probably never headed under Rosales, initiated the trainer’s double in a 1600m conditions race.
In doing so, the colt registered his first career success, at the fifth attempt, and showed an ultra game attitude to deny Dhamin who looked the most likely winner throughout most of the home straight but could not pass his determined foe.

“This was my first winner of the season so it is a relief,” said Rosales. “He was very brave in the closing stages and deserved to win.”

The handicapper, as well as trainer Ernst Oertel, would have been delighted with the outcome of the 1200m handicap in which Madjanthis was produced fast and late, switching to the far side rail under Antonio Fresu, to snatch a thrilling victory.

Trained by Oertel and something of an enigmatic character, Madjanthis was recording his fourth career success and third in the UAE, all on the Abu Dhabi turf having won once on dirt in his native USA.

“The trainer said not to try and go through horses so I was keen to avoid traffic,” said Fresu. “They proved to be the perfect instructions.”

Oertel also saddled the second, Ibn Harmany and third, AF Hakeem, to record an impressive 1-2-3.

The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden and while he may not have looked the most willing on just his second career start, Fahadd, still managed to land the spoils.

Driven throughout the final 300m by Harry Bentley, it was only in the final 50m Fahadd, making his turf debut after finishing fifth on dirt at Al Ain first time out, hit the front for trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

“He is inexperienced and can only improve,” said Bentley.

He is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as is Qader, smooth winner of the concluding 1600m handicap with Adrie de Vries in the saddle for trainer Jean de Rouale.