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AF Al Sajanjle Lands Abu Dhabi Colts Classic

Sunday’s meeting at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club was highlighted by the Emirates Colts Classic and the 1600m Prestige contest was totally dominated by owner/breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and trainer Ernst Oertel who supplied the first three home, headed by AF Al Sajanjle.

The choice from the trio of Richard Mullen, the winner tracked stable companion, AF Maher under Antonio Fresu before throwing down a challenge on the home turn.

Fresu’s mount put up a real fight and it was only about 300m from home that the winner took the initiative with the runner-up trying to fight back, ultimately, to no avail.

Third was AF Yathroq who occupied that position pretty much throughout the whole race.

“That is a great result for the owner and trainer,” said Mullen. “We were pretty confident we had a strong hand coming into the race and so it proved.

“Luckily enough I picked the right one and enjoyed some more success for Messrs Al Nabooda and Oertel.”

Owner and trainer later completed a double, courtesy of AF Hakeem who was never headed in a 1400m handicap with Fresu aboard the winner on this occasion.

The same connections’ AF Al Almaa looked a massive danger throughout the straight before weakening in the closing stages, losing second near the line to AF Al Mawhebah.

“He was always happy out in front and then responded well when challenged”, said Fresu. “You always know you have a chance riding for these connections who do so well in these races.”

The meeting concluded with the only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2200m handicap providing the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Jaaref, owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the perfect opportunity to open his UAE account at the fifth attempt.

Given a patient ride by Tadhg O’Shea, he was produced to challenge early in the straight, sweeping to the front 200m out and winning cosily.

“I actually ride his horse a lot at home so know him well,” said O’Shea. “It was a new trip for him so I wanted to be patient and they went a nice gallop.

“He can be a bit lazy and hit a flat spot but once I really asked him he has picked up nicely and won in fair style.”

Sixteen went to post for an ultra competitive 1400m handicap and, as the runners entered the relatively short straight, at least half of them appeared to have a realistic chance of success.

It was then that Bainoona and O’Shea shot clear with what appeared a race winning move but they had no answer to the challenge of Brooklin Jet D’Azrak.

Previously a maiden after 11 starts, the Helal Al Alawi-trained winner was ridden by Pat Cosgrave and the pair seemingly won with a bit in hand.

“She had run some nice races in defeat so it is nice to see her win,” said Al Alawi.

Fernando Jara was aboard Nawarat Al Reef who stayed on dourly to land a 2200m handicap for trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi who trains at the Al Ajban Stables in whose colours the winner runs.

Twice victorious previously, both times over 1600m but not since December 2015, the mare appeared to relish the stamina test on this occasion, seemingly outstaying runner-up ES Maydan who looked a huge threat halfway up the straight.

“She did that nicely enough and found plenty when I asked her,” said Jara. “She stayed well and is game which always helps.”

The opening 1600m maiden was won by Arif who produced an ultra game effort with Sam Hitchcott in the saddle for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami.

Well away, the pair led throughout the first half of the race but were then passed by eventual runner-up Noof KB.

However, Hitchcott’s mount fought back to regain the initiative 250m from home and ran on strongly to land the spoils.

Runner-up on his sole previous outing, he clearly has the right attitude and the front two were a long way clear of the remainder.