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Rich Pickings For It`s Far From Over In The Group 1 Emirates Championship

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Abu Dhabi’s final meeting of the current season on Sunday was a cracker and highlighted by the 2200m Group 1 Emirates Championship and It’s Far From Over produced something of a surprise in the Purebred Arabian feature.

In a strange race, Nymphea Du Paon, sporting blinkers for the first time, and Shane Karlsson were soon clear and had extended their lead to about 20 lengths at halfway. They still had plenty of daylight between themselves and their eight rivals entering the straight but the pack were making inroads into the lead.

Oisin Murphy was the first to give chase on the eventual winner, asking his mount to close about 800m out and they hit the front in the final 50m, posting victory by just over a length.

Nymphea Du Paon, one of three in the race saddled by Salem Al Ketbi, hung on grimly for second, holding off the dual challenge of his two stable companions, Shayel Aldhabi in third and Skoop, who was fourth.

The winner is trained by Omar Daraj who was enjoying a first victory at the highest level, and this was his second winner of the season.

“He had some very good form when he arrived from America two years ago,” said the trainer. “We always thought he had a really big prize in him but it took him a very long time to acclimatise.
“We have been very patient with him and tonight we have been rewarded.
“Oisin did everything as we planned and gave him a great ride. I told him to be patient in the first half of the race and to ease into contention, which is exactly what he did.
“Luckily the plan has worked out.”

Murphy was completing a 2200m big race double having already won the Thoroughbred equivalent, the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship.

The most prestigious Thoroughbred race of the Abu Dhabi campaign, it produced a thrilling finish with the first six home separated by just over two lengths.

Frenchman Gerald Avranche tried to make all on Sanshaawes for South African Mike De Kock, a tactic it appeared would be successful halfway up the straight when they were still a few lengths clear.

However, as his stride started to falter about 200m out, Dormello and Murphy appeared out of the pack and delivered a withering run, which denied Avranche’s mount nearing the line.

“This has been a lucky race for us over the years,” said Selvaratnam. “We were very hopeful of a big run after he won well at Jebel Ali on his previous start. Oisin has given him a very good, confident ride.
“Hopefully the horse will get an invitation to the Dubai Sheema Classic and be able to run on World Cup night.

It was the only Thoroughbred race on the six race card and a fifth win in the race for trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam and his main patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Al Ketbi and his Al Asayl team may have been denied in the feature but scooped the UAE Arabian Derby, also over 2200m but restricted to four-year-olds foaled in the UAE. The race was won comfortably by Shaheer under a supremely confident Tadhg O’Shea.

Winner of the Group Three middle round of the Arabian Triple Crown, over the same course and distance three weeks ago, but not penalised for that victory, this success was achieved in similar fashion.

As on that occasion, O’Shea was happy to take a lead for about 400m before taking his mount to the front, after which they never saw another rival.

“We knew he was the best horse in the race but these small fields can prove a tactical nightmare. I was forced to go to the front a lot earlier than ideal but he has a touch of class and did it nicely.”

Shaheer was completing a rapid double for Al Asayl and owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan after the victory of RB Burning who led close home under O’Shea to take the opening 1400m maiden.

In doing so, he was opening his account at the fourth attempt, all over this course and distance, and going one better than on his previous two starts when runner-up.

Held up in midfield, the eventual winner made smooth progress behind the leaders on the home turn but needed every bit of the 1400m to deny Wazn in the closing stages.

“He has improved with each run,” said O’Shea. “He showed good resolve here and is learning about the game all the time. We did not get the clearest of runs so he can hopefully improve.”

The jockey completed a treble, repeating a feat he also achieved at Al Ain on Friday, aboard the Eric Lemartinel-trained Af Asefah in a 1400m handicap, before Richard Mullen won the final race in the capital this season, a 1600m handicap, with Sharaf Al Reef, trained by Jaber Bittar.