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Al Asayl Stars in Treble Success at Abu Dhabi

UAE Champion Jockey O’Shea Wins Four of Six Races

From their powerful base at Al Asayl Stables, the team of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, his trainer Eric Lemartinel and main jockey, Tadgh O’Shea are always to be feared at Abu Dhabi and combined to win half of the six races on Sunday evening, with O`Shea going one better with four.

Indeed Lemartinel won all three races in which he had runners with pride of place going to RB Dixie Burning, winner of the featured 2200m handicap.

Given a patient ride by UAE Champion Jockey O’Shea the seven year old mare was allowed to settle in the rear of eight runners.

The pair made smooth progress leaving the back straight and, despite being briefly short of room in the straight, always looked the most likely winners from there on in.

The mare now has the amazing career record of seven victories from just eight starts.

“She is a very nice mare who stays well and is tough,” said Lemartinel. “The pace looked pretty strong out there so Tadhg was obviously happy to settle her in behind and take his time.

“He has given her a great ride and it has been a very good evening for the whole team.”

That team started the fixture in fine style, landing the opening 1400m maiden with debutant Mahfouz.

Settled in fourth by O’Shea, he was ridden to challenge at the top of the straight, keeping on strongly to hit the front just after the 200m pole and winning comfortably enough in the end.

“We thought he had a decent chance as he is a nice young horse who can, hopefully, progress from this,” said O’Shea.

The same connections then combined with RB Torch who made his second attempt at sprinting, having finished third in last year’s 1000m Group 2 Al Ruwais, a successful with one with victory in a 1200m handicap.

Love To Dance and Fernando Jara set a scorching gallop and seemingly had most of the seven runners in trouble by halfway.

However, the Lemartinel duo of Molahen El Alhan, under Gerald Avranche, loomed large early in the straight with the former hitting the front, early to be snared by O’Shea and RB Touch about 250m from home.

Ain Jaloot tried to muster a late challenge but RB Torch kept on well to win in style.

“He is a horse we have always really liked but things have just not really gone his way lately,” said O’Shea. “We have tried him, over a lot further, on dirt the last twice but Eric found a nice race for him here and we were keen to get him back on turf.

“This 1200m or maybe 1400m is probably his ideal trip and hopefully this will have done his confidence a lot of good.

O’ Shea actually partnered four winners on the card, having been ultra positive aboard the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Najm Suhail in the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1400m handicap, with the pair leading virtually from the outset.

As the field left the final bend, O’Shea committed for home and his mount responded gallantly, running on well to win and record a third career victory and second locally.

“We decided to try and get across from a high draw and were able to get to the front,” said O’Shea. “He seemed to enjoy himself out there and then responded well when I asked him.”

Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and trainer Ernst Oertel combined with four of the 13 runners in a 1200m conditions race and provided both first and second.

Ridden by Bruno Reis, AF Mukhifah gained the day, chased in vain throughout the final 200m by AF Maher under Antonio Fresu.

For the winner, it was a second career victory on her fifth start and, understandably, Al Nabooda, who also bred both horses, was delighted.

“We were very hopeful of at least going close as we had some nice runners in the race,” he said. “We were not certain which was our best chance and we hope, with luck, they are all nice horses who are going to continue to improve.”

Szczepan Mazur produced Negmah to lead 200m out in a 1600m maiden and the pair stayed on strongly to land the spoils. The Ibrahim Al Hadhrami runner was opening her account at the eighth time of asking having finished second over course and distance on her previous outing five weeks ago.