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Jockey Harry Bentley Bags AED 3million Group 1 HH The President Cup

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Al Jahouri-Trained Thakif Short Head Winner of Abu Dhabi Highlight

The 2200m Group 1 HH The President Cup, with increased prize money of AED3m this year, was the highlight at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening and Majed Al Jahouri combined with Harry Bentley to scoop the jackpot with Thakif.

Ahmed Ajtebi tried to make all on the winner’s stable companion Areem, but his stamina failed him and he had no answer to Bentley’s mount who took up the running 300m from the post.

They soon went clear but had to run all the way to the line with Abu Alabyad, winner of the course and distance trial two weeks ago, trying hard to get past.

It was close at the post but Bentley’s mount had done enough to add to his amazing career record.

“A couple of years ago there was no way he would have won over 2200m,” said Bentley. “He was just far too keen in his races but he has grown up he has learned to settle much better.

“He is a real favourite of mine and this was my sixth win on him this season – including a 1600m National Day and twice over 1000m in Group 3 company.”

The Listed 1400m Thoroughbred version produced a thrilling finish with Royston Ffrench’s mount, Ertijaal, just holding on from the Mike De Kock-trained Johan Strauss who was finishing like an express train under Pat Dobbs.

However, the line came just in time for French’s mount, who had taken over the lead from stable companion and last year’s winner, of this race, Nawwaar halfway up the straight.

De Kock’s second runner, Disa Leader was another fast finisher to snatch third in a race where the first five home were separated by little more than a length.

“That last 100m seemed an awful long way,” said Ffrench. “I knew we were clear when we hit the front but was aware of horses finishing fast all round near the line.

“Mike De Kock’ horse in particular was finishing with real purpose and I was not certain we had held on.

“My horse and Nawwaar both like to race like that, from the front but my fellow stayed on best this time.”

The opening 1600m handicap proved a memorable occasion for Swedish jockey, Shane Karlsson who partnered his first UAE winner, at only the fifth attempt, on RB Smoking Rich for Salem Al Ketbi.

Settled in mid division, he made smooth progress at the top of the straight and led 200m from home, winning comfortably in the end.

“It is great to get the first winner on the board and it is a wonderful opportunity and one I am really enjoying. This was actually my first ride in Abu Dhabi.

“It is a powerful yard and there are plenty of nice horses at Al Asayl.
“Hopefully it wont be my only winner.”

The jockey must have thought he was going to double his tally on TM-DC in a 1400m handicap when the pair led 300m out, only to be denied about 100m later by Ain Jaloot.

Frenchman Gerald Avranche was in the saddle for his compatriot Eric Lemartinel, a pair who have combined to win many races locally, especially at Abu Dhabi.

“They went pretty quick,” said Avranche and I was always confident the leaders would tire. At the top of the straight my horse started to pick up nicely and has won comfortably in the end.”

The 1600m Emirates Fillies’ Classic provided the perfect opportunity for the Helal Al Alawi, second in four of her previous starts, to finally open her account.

Ridden positively by apprentice George Buckell, she led as the runners entered the home turn but the young jockey waited into they well into the straight before really asking her for an effort.

She responded well and opened up what proved a decisive lead with MH Kanz, AZ Shamah and Nawarat Al Reef all closing at the end but never looking likely to get there.

“She has deserved that after some really good runs in defeat,” said Buckell. “She really picked up well when I asked her and was then always going to hang on.

“This should do her confidence the power of good.”

The meeting finished with a 1400m handicap and Al Ketbi completed a first-and-last-race double when RB Torch and Tadhg O’Shea were far too good for their six rivals.