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Ukrainian Lands Abu Dhabi Feature Win for Grandstand Stables

The featured 2200m handicap at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening was won by Ukrainian, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe and partnered by stable jockey, Royston Ffrench.

Ffrench was happy to bide his time in midfield before asking his mount to chase the leaders as the 16-strong field swung for home, 500m out.

Ukranian responded well to his jockey’s urgings and the pair hit the front within the final 200m before running on strongly to grab the spoils.

‘The return to turf has really suited him, said French whose win came in the only Thoroughbred race of the day. ‘This is a horse who has plenty of ability and a good turn of foot but he really does seem to prefer turf compared to dirt or the all-weather.
“His best previous race in the UAE was here, on the grass, at Abu Dhabi."

The rest of the card consisted of Purebred Arabian races and opened with a 1400m conditions contest which, with the late defection of the Ernst Oertel-trained Abhaar, looked wide open.
Oertel did saddle Hakim and he tried to make every yard of the running under apprentice, Daniel Muscutt and, turning for home, they had a clear lead.

However, they were swamped at the 200m pole, firstly by ES Kram but more significantly by AS Fayz, losing his maiden tag at the fifth attempt for trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

“I actually rode this fellow at Al Ain three weeks ago and he has run there since. I don’t think he really likes that dirt surface," said winning jockey, Wayne Smith.

“I was in trouble early on here but I knew he would run on well and that is actually what he has done.”

It`s rare that UAE Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel, and UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea leave Abu Dhabi empty handed and they combined to win a 1600m maiden with debutante Estourah.

Sent to the front early in the straight by O’Shea, she always looked in control to make a very pleasing racecourse debut.

“She travelled well, perhaps too much so as we probably hit the front 100m too early. She was getting tired at the end but kept on well."

“We had a great draw in one but you never want to get too far back from there but she was professional enough and it was a nice debut.”

Jockey Richard Mullen has been in great form during the early part of the season and added another winner to his tally when booting home Bouthayna Al Reef for trainer Jaber Bittar in a 1600m handicap.

Prominent early on, the eventual winner seemed outpaced just after halfway but ran on strongly to lead close home.

“I rode him at Al Ain last time and he did not really seem to like it there, said Mullen. “He has certainly appreciated this return to turf and with the yard in great form I was hopeful.

“It is a great yard to ride for.”

The trainer wasted little time in completing a double, this time with Sam Hitchcott performing the steering on AL Hamra, winner of a 2200m handicap.

Originally settled in mid division, Hitchcott’s mount made steady progress to hit the front halfway up the Abu Dhabi straight to the delight of the jockey, riding his first winner of the local season.

Hitchcott said: “This mare has her fair share of temperament so we took her down to the start early and that helped to relax her. She appreciated that this evening and won well enough in the end.”

Having opened his UAE account at Al Ain on Saturday afternoon, Polish pilot Szcezpan Mazur promptly doubled his count on Unique De La Garde.

As with his Al Ain winner, this one was saddled by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, with whom the young Pole is based.

“Two winners in two days is a great surprise", said the jockey. “I have only had 14 rides so I have to be very pleased. I had a good season in Poland with 67 winners and am really enjoying this experience.”