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Sahib Du Clos Regains Winning Ways in Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan Cup

Photo: www.erikarphotography.com

Female Jockeys Also in Action at Opening Abu Dhabi Meeting

The cream rose to the top in the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup at Abu Dhabi on Sunday with Sahib Du Clos, a triple Group 1 winner two seasons ago for trainer, Saifaldin Deeb making all under Wayne Smith.

Abu Dhabi`s first meeting of the season was packed full of excitement also featuring the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey`s Race and the conclusion of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies` World Championship.

But the day belonged to Deeb whose stable star was bouncing back to form in the 1600m Prestige race after a fruitless campaign last term and was registering a first career victory since his Meydan victory in the middle round of the Maktoum Challenge in February 2012.

Smith said: “Well, that was impressive was it not? In fairness, trainer and connections were really bullish coming into the race and thought he was back near his best.

“On that evidence they are right. I assume the National Day Cup will be his first main target.”

The Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea bandwagon continues to gather momentum and they enjoyed probably their easiest winner of the season thus far with Molahen Alham who turned the opening 1400m into a procession.

The debutant destroyed his 15 rivals who were headed, over five lengths back, by stable companion Fatat Al Arab, himself 14 lengths clear of the third.

O’Shea was back in the winner’s enclosure just 30 minutes later but after a totally contrasting victory in the only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1600m handicap. He was aboard Maath Gool, winner of the race last year when trained by Musabah Al Mujairi but now with Doug Watson, who looked set to win comfortably before tiring close home and just holding off the renewed challenge of the Al Muhairi-trained Funon.

O’Shea said: “We thought Molahen Alham had a big chance but that was more then we could have hoped for. It was a very pleasing debut.

“Fair play to Maath Gool as I thought we were going to win easily but then he really tired in the final 100m. However, he really stuck his neck out and just held on. He will have needed that and should come on for the run.”

As thrilling a finish as that was, it was overshadowed an hour later in the 2200m HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak EARS Apprentice Jockey Race, a conditions event which produced a three way photo.

The verdict went to Manan, completing a double for trainer, Eric Lemartinel and produced to lead, literally on the line by 19 year oldSouth African, Collen Thabana.

The jubilant jockey said: “This is just amazing and I cannot thank Abu Dhabi and everybody involved enough. The trainer told me to take my time, get into the race and try and challenge in the straight. Luckily, it all worked perfectly.”

After Maath Gool’s repeat win earlier, there was a distinct feeling of déjà vu when Mooser landed the 1400m handicap, just as he had done 12 months ago, under Gerald Avranche and initiating a double for trainer Lemartinel.

The meeting concluded with the HH Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies’ World Championship (IFAHR), a Prestige race over 1600m and Omani-born Salima Al Taleei rode her sixth UAE winner.

She was aboard Kareem W’Rsan, trained by Jaci Wickham and they denied Fryvolous who would have completed a double for Ernst Oertel.