Al Asayl Dominates Abu Dhabi Purebred Arabian Features

Al Ketbi Saddles First Three Home in Group 3 Triple Crown Race

• Seemar Scoops Thoroughbred Abu Dhabi Championship Prep with Antinori

There was something of an air of inevitability at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening with the Al Asayl team and trainer Salem Al Ketbi landing both the Puredbred Arabian features, highlighted by a 1-2-3 in the featured Group 3 middle round of the Arabian Triple Crown.

Stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, was on the right one, steering Shaheer to an easy victory in the 2200m highlight from stable companion Namrood with the yard’s third runner, Arwaah, running on to take third close home.

Taken on for the lead in the early stages by George Buckell aboard Love To Dance, who eventually finished last, O’Shea was soon able to gain the initiative on Shaheer who, with 800m left, was well clear with only Namrood looking any possible danger.

No challenge ensued though and O’Shea’s mount crossed the line more than three lengths to the good to make it two wins from two local starts, having won a 1600m Abu Dhabi maiden in early January.

“He has done everything we have asked of him since he arrived in the yard,” said O’Shea. “This was a good performance and obviously a great result for the yard. It is always nice when you pick the right one.”

Stable companion Abhaar had earlier ran out the very decisive winner of the 1600m Emirates Colts’ Classic, making it four wins from four outings, including three over this course and distance.

Already winner of both the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Cup and the Listed opening round of the Arabian Triple Crown, both over this 1600m, he made light of the penalty incurred for the latter victory and was a class above his six rivals.

O’Shea was content to take a lead from AL Shabab in the early stages before sending his mount to the front fully 1200m from home. They powered clear and crossed the line, virtually at a canter, almost six lengths clear of their closest pursuer, Sataar Al Reef.

“He is very, very good,” said O’Shea. “We said that when he won his maiden back in November and he has progressed continually.

“Everything went to plan today and he is a very straightforward horse to ride – he makes my job very easy.
“He has the attributes of all the very good ones – he is good out of the gates, travels so well and really quickens nicely.

“Looking forward we hope he is going to be a top, top horse and there should be plenty more to come.”

Veronika Aske, the assistant trainer, added: “Abhaar is probably our best 4 year old, though Shaheer was also very impressive. Both are UAE-bred which is quite amazing.

“Shaheer will go for the third round of the Triple Crown but Abhaar may not run again this season.”

The only Thoroughbred race, the 2200m Abu Dhabi Championship Prep was won, for the third year running, by trainer Satish Seemar and his stable jockey, Richard Mullen. Having won it two years ago with Malthouse and 12 months later with Inthar, they combined this time with Antinori who led close home.

Settled in midfield by Mullen, Antinori always seemed to be travelling nicely and responded well in the straight when asked by his jockey, running on strongly to deny Vaasa who looked the likely winner with 100m to run.

“He is a horse who goes particularly well around here,” said Mullen. “I won on him here earlier in the season over 2400m so I knew he would be staying on strongly over this 200m shorter trip.

“There was a nice pace on in this race and he travelled well, as he normally does. He then had to battle in the straight and he really has responded gamely.

“He loves this fast ground and the sharp track but he did run a great race at Meydan on his previous start so we knew we had a big shout tonight.”

Ain Jaloot has been in great form this season and registered a fourth consecutive victory when running on far too strongly for seven opponents in a 1000m handicap.

It was a second course and distance win and he has also won over both 1200m and 1400m, all at Abu Dhabi.

Trained by Eric Lemartinel, he was ridden by regular pilot Gerald Avranche who said: “He has been a revelation this season and is tough, consistent and versatile.”

The meeting concluded with a 2200m maiden and Lemartinel completed a double with Major who just held on in an exciting finish under Wayne Smith.

The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden, won impressively by debutant AF Mathmoon with Silvestre De Sousa riding for his main employer, Musabah Al Muhairi.

The pair swept to the front halfway up the straight before surging clear to record an emphatic success.

“That was quite impressive,” said De Sousa. “It is the perfect start to his career and he should improve.”

A second 1400m maiden went to Saif W’Rsan, trained by Bakhit Al Ketbi and opening his account at the 12th attempt. He always looked to be going best under Sam Hitchcott who sent him for home at the top of the straight and they never looked in danger afterwards.