Dobbs Hot Streak Continues with Al Ain Feature Win

Haajeb wins under Pat Dobbs
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Jockey Builds on Meydan Three Timer while O`Shea Rides Treble

Al Ain Racecourse kicked off their season on Saturday afternoon with Pat Dobbs continuing his prolific weekend with victory in the official highlight, a 1600m handicap, aboard Haajeb.

Having secured a Meydan treble less than 24 hours earlier, including the two most valuable races on the card, Dobbs added this feature to his haul having stalked early leader Zaffaan until the home turn.

As they entered the straight, Dobbs eased his mount to the front and never really looked likely to be caught, though Madjanthat was closing at the line.

“He travelled well,” said Dobbs. “I was always going nicely behind the speed and he picked up when I asked him.

“It has been a good weekend.”

Haajeb is trained by Nacer Samiri who, having opened his account with a double at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, was repeating the feat after scoring with Haizoom in a 1400m maiden.

Only six went to post but, halfway up the long straight, five were still in contention before Haizoom and Al Harth pulled clear.

O’Shea’s mount, in front 300m out, ran on gamely to deny apprentice Hector Crouch a first UAE winner on the runner-up.

“I actually hoped she might win a bit easier than that,” said O’Shea, completing a double of his own. “But she won which is the main thing.”

The meeting concluded with a 1600m maiden and Samiri completed a treble with Eskandar and Jose Santiago hanging on grimly from the late challenge of Babel D’Aillas.

All three of the trainer’s winners are owned by Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

O’Shea had earlier won the opening 1800m maiden, the only Thoroughbred race on the card, with a comfortable victory aboard I’Tilaf, having his only his third career start.

Unraced when with Godolphin in England, the winner was switched to Ali Rashid Al Raihe for whom he had two starts in March at the end of last season.

Well beaten on both occasions, he has clearly progressed over the summer and won nicely under a confident O’Shea.

“He has had very little racing and is a bit of a nervous sort,” said O’Shea. “This will have done his confidence a lot of good and I was happy from a long way out.

“He has a real dirt pedigree and loves this surface.

“Hopefully he can be competitive in handicaps now.”

Latifa Princess and Sam Hitchcott blasted out the gates in the 1000m handicap and never looked in any trouble throughout the dash up the sprint course.

At the halfway point, Hitchcott was motionless but those in behind were visibly toiling. Soon after, the jockey let out an inch of rein and the race was over.

It was a first UAE winner for trainer, Veronika Aske, saddling her first runner.

“We were quite hopeful,” said Aske. “She is a lovely mare with plenty of speed and goes well on the dirt so had plenty in her favour.”

Eric Lemartinel, the new master of the powerful Al Asayl Stables, provided both first and second in the 1400m handicap, but perhaps not in the order most expected.

It was Gerald Avranche, sporting the second colours of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on RB Inferno, who gained the day, holding on from O’Shea aboard RB Burning Ash, seemingly the yard’s main hope.

“This is quite a nice surprise,” said Avranche. “RB Inferno is so lazy in the mornings he has shown very little to give me any confidence today.

“In fairness to the horse, though, he has really responded gamely when I have asked him so he seems to save his best for the course which is always good.”

RB Inferno actually won a 1400m turf maiden at Abu Dhabi back in January when chased home by RB Burning Ash.

O’Shea and Lemartinel then visited the winner’s enclosure together after the smooth debut victory of Cloe De Faust in a 1400m maiden.

The pair could be seen looming behind the leading pack as the runners entered the home turn and, by the time they had straightened for home, O’Shea was poised to make his challenge.

He waited for about 200m before pressing the button and the filly shot clear. Despite displaying signs of inexperience, she held on well.

“We brought her here for a trial,” said O’Shea. “She was impressive then and equally so today but she is still learning.

“She is our best three-year-old filly I would say so will certainly be stepped up in class and will run in some of the decent fillies’ races at Abu Dhabi.

“It will take a good one to beat her.”

It was his third winner on the card and he added: “It has been a good evening, especially considering I have picked the wrong one at least once.

“So I have to be delighted with a treble and long may it continue.”