Abu Dhabi Treble As Champion Owner Al Nabooda Dominates

Champion Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and his main trainer, Ernst Oertel, not only combined to win both the first two races at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening, but also supplied the second on each occasion. Their success including victory in the featured 1400m handicap with AF Maher, ridden by Silvestre de Sousa,

Only eight went to post in the feature and De Sousa, who did not ride at Sharjah on Saturday due to illness was at his tactical best, stalking the leaders, his stable companion AF Al Jahed, and hat-trick seeking Extra Hope. That pair were at loggerheads at the top of the straight, while De Sousa edged closer before making a challenge inside the final 200m, hitting the front 100m out and forging clear of his stablemate who plugged on for second under Antonio Fresu.

For AF Maher it was a third consecutive and fourth career success, having started the hat-trick sequence here at Abu Dhabi over 1600m under Connor Beasley, before scoring over 1400m on the dirt at Al Ain when also partnered by De Dousa. “You always know you have a decent chance riding for these connections,” De Sousa said, “We went a decent gallop and my horse was always travelling well. He then picked up nicely when I asked him and ran strongly to the line to win well.”

Thirty minutes earlier, owner and trainer had celebrated a 1-2 in the opening 1400m maiden with Fresu and AF Motaghatres running on too strongly for AF Al Bairaq and De Sousa. Both the Oertel runners had tracked the early pace, set by Xavier Ziani aboard Safwan Al Megirat but, when he came under pressure on the home turn, Fresu made a decisive bid for the front quickening clear in a race deciding manoeuvre. Soon a couple of lengths clear, they were always holding the late challenge of their stable companion, AF Motaghatres losing his maiden tag at the fourth attempt, having finished second on each of his previous three outings.

After debuting at Sharjah, he then ran at Al Ain before having his first turf start, over this 1400m course and distance, when chasing home MH Rahal in the Emirates Colts Classic four weeks ago. Fresu, in the saddle on each occasion, said: “He certainly deserved to win a race and we knew he had a big chance today. He has done it nicely and is a progressive young horse who should improve with his racing.”

For Al Nabooda, the satisfaction of the two results was further enhanced by the fact he also bred all four horses involved.

De Sousa later demonstrated just why he is a dual British Champion Jockey, making all in the concluding 2200m handicap aboard AF Mahshoum, completing a double for himself and a homebred treble for Al Nabooda. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, it was a fourth career victory for the horse and second over course and distance, both this season having won at the first Abu Dhabi fixture of the campaign at the beginning of November.

Al Rayhi said: “Silvestre has followed the instructions perfectly because that is how this horse likes to be ridden; positively from the front. He stays well, is tough and game so when bowling along happily is a hard horse to get past.”

Fresh from a Thoroughbred winner at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon with Strong Chemistry, trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi was back in the winner’s enclosure after the hard fought victory of AF Sanad, also bred by Al Nabooda in a second, lesser 1400m handicap.

Like Strong Chemistry, also owned by the trainer, AF Sanad was third or fourth throughout the first half of the race before asked to win his race at the 400m pole by an animated Royston Ffrench. Sat motionless next to them was Adrie de Vies aboard Arif but Ffrench’s mount kept responding to his jockey’s urgings and held on well with Arif finding little for pressure when asked.

AF Sanad was winning for the third time this season, under a different jockey each time, and opening his turf account, having scored twice previously on the Al Ain dirt. The first time, over 1600m was in December, the second just last week was over 1000m so he is clearly versatile and seemingly progressive.
Ffrench said: “All credit to the horse who has really battled well throughout the straight and he had to as the second threw down a big challenge. It is a great result for a smaller yard to win three with the same horse so well done to connections and it was a great spare ride to pick up.”

The only Thoroughbred race was a 1600m maiden and Connor Beasley continues to impress in this his debut UAE campaign and reached double figures for the season, landing the spoils aboard Treasured Times.

Having just his second career start and first on turf, having finished a well beaten fourth over 1600m at Meydan ten days ago, the four-year-old son of Teofilo provided his trainer, Rashed Bourelsy with a belated first win this season. That said Bouresly, who saddled two in this and 53 runners before the evening, does seem to be hitting form as most of his horses also ran well at Jebel Ali on Friday. The trainer said: “This is a nice horse and really liked the turf but ran well first time. We have high hopes for him.”

In her fourth season with a licence, Saleha Ahmed Al Ghurair saddled her first ever winner with her 25th runner, when La Yfootkum, whom she also owns, landed the 1600m maiden. Ridden by apprentice Adam McLean and having his 14th career start, he appeared a most unlikely winner entering the home turn, when he was amongst the backmarkers of the 14 runners. However, in the straight, he flew down the outside, hitting the front well inside the final 100m.

“Obviously I am very pleased,” said Al Ghurair. “We hoped he would run well and the jockey has given him a very good ride.”