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Abu Dhabi Proves Happy Hunting Ground for Al Asayl Stables

The Al Asayl Stables team enjoyed a highly successful evening at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday, combining to claim three of the first four winners on the card.

Pride of place went to Mahbooba, who, like all the Al Asayl winners is owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, trained by Eric Lemartinel and ridden by Tadhg O’Shea.

Conceding weight to all of her nine rivals, Mahbooba was the comfortable winner of a 1600m conditions contest that was restricted to fillies and mares. She was chased home by Gerald Avranche aboard her stable companion, Deyaar.

O’Shea’s mount was allowed to take a lead from Bony Des Vialettes until O’Shea sent her for home about 500m out.

Twice victorious over 2200m last season, Mahbooba always had the upper hand and, despite it being her first outing since March, never looked likely to be caught.

“This was a good race for her comeback as there were few options,” explained Lemartinel. “She did win over this Abu Dhabi 1600m on her debut but will be better when returned to further.”

O’Shea added: “I knew I was on the best filly in the race so was always going to keep things as simple as possible.

“We actually thought Deyaar was our main danger and it is a great result for the whole team at Al Asayl.”

It was actually a third consecutive victory for the ever powerful Al Asayl squadron on a card in which Lemartinel was only represented in four of the six races.

Earlier, a full field of 16 may have gone to post for the 1600m maiden but only one truly mattered throughout the straight with Tahany powering clear under O’Shea.

Raced three times in her native France earlier this year, she was having just her second local start after finishing third in a similar race on the Al Ain dirt three weeks ago.

“We thought she would win at Al Ain the other day but has really appreciated the return to turf today,” said O’Shea. “The fast ground has suited her because she shows that type of speed at home but did not find it on the dirt.

“Hopefully she is a nice filly to look forward to for the future.”
Just 30 minutes later the same connections were back in the winner’s enclosure but the admirable RB Dixie Burning had to work a lot harder for her victory in a 1600m handicap.

Winner of both her previous outings this season, she has now won five of just seven starts and showed a very willing attitude to battle past El Salaam and then hold off the very late challenge of AF Al Hazer.

“She is a lovely game mare with a great attitude,” said O’Shea. “She is also very versatile, stays further and was undefeated in two starts at Al Ain on their synthetic surface so she is a pleasure to be associated with.”

Turning for home, O’Shea looked to hold a massive chance of making it four consecutive victories when looming as a serious threat on the Helal Al Alawi-trained AK Adour in a 2200m conditions race.

However, Richard Mullen had other ideas aboard AF La’Asae with the pair storming clear 400m from home and never looking in danger of being caught.

Trained by Ernst Oertel, AF La’Asae has now won three of his five career starts for owner and breeder, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.

The finale, a 1400m handicap and the only Thoroughbred contest on the card, also went to Mullen, this time riding for his main employer, Satish Seemar, who was responsible for five of the 14 runners.

Mullen picked the right one and was rewarded with a very pleasing victory aboard Akeed Champion, a first horse in the UAE for new owners, Miss Avni Kapoor, Charnesh Kapoor and Nirav Kapoor.

“He is a nice horse and this is the first chance we have had to run him on turf so we are delighted,” said Seemar. “I am also very pleased for the owners for whom he is a first horse.”

The picture changed consistently throughout the final half of the opening 1400m conditions race in which Az Dhabyan tried to make all under Saeed Al Mazrooei, only to be swamped 300m from home.

Az Laheeb then led, briefly, only to be overpowered by Es Maydan who in turn had no answer to the late challenge of Pat Dobbs aboard Izz Bladi.

They then looked to be in danger of being denied by MH Tawag, finishing fast and late under George Buckell, but the line appeared just in time for Dobbs’ mount.

Having only her fifth career start and trained by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, she was repeating a course and victory success of three weeks ago in a similar race.

“We had a bad draw today but she has plenty of early speed,” said Dobbs who has now won on the filly both times he has ridden her.

“We actually led a bit too soon as it transpired but the opportunity was there and sometimes you just have to take them.”