Al Asayl Claims First Round of Arabian Triple Crown

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (

Adrie De Vries Pilots Al Ketbi Charge to Victory

The 1600m first round of the Listed Purebred Arabian Triple Crown was won by the Al Asayl team’s Abhaar at Abu Dhabi’s opening meeting of the New Year on Sunday evening.

Unusually it was not stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea aboard the winner after he elected to ride runner up RB Torch instead. Instead it was Adrie De Vries in the saddle.

Both runners were making excellent second career starts having won their one and only previous outing.

“I knew I was picking up a great spare ride,” said winning jockey Adrie De Vries. “Any horse from the Al Asayl yard has to be respected and this horse just proved that.

“It was obviously a tough choice for Tadgh O’Shea, who chase runner-up RB Torch.”

The day was not without incident after Jesus Rosales, Jose Santiago, Harry Bentley and Noel Garbutt were unseated during the running of the Arabian Triple Crown.

O’Shea may have been out of luck on this occasion but he was in the right place earlier on Shaheer, the comfortable winner of the opening 1600m maiden.

Like Abhaar and RB Torch, Shaheer is now trained by Salem Al Ketbi.

“He is a nice horse,” said O’Shea. “This is his local debut but his form in France indicated he was more than useful. He is one we have been looking forward to running.

“He will have to go up in grade now but clearly merits a stiffer challenge as he had some very good form in France.”

Trainer Jaber Bittar also saddled a 1-2 with Ameer Al Reef and Jesus Rosales denying stable companion, Sharaf Al Reef and Richard Mullen in a 1400m handicap.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2400m handicap, went the way of Ukranian, ridden by Royston Ffrench for his main employer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

Ffrench said: “Everything fell into place for him this evening. He won well enough here last time over 2200m and the extra distance today has not been a problem.

“It is a great start to the New Year.”

Elsewhere, Jesus Rosales and Ameer Al Reef denied stable companion Sharaf Al Reef in a 1400m handicap. Both are trained by Jaber Bittar.

Very few UAE meetings finish without a winner for jockey Silvestre De Sousa and he maintained his great run of form when partnering Nizam Al Ghariba to land the 1200m conditions race for trainer Jameel Salman.

Pat Dobbs has been riding at the very top of his form recently and was aboard Haanoof, winner of a 2200m handicap for trainer Yousef Al Bloushi.