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A treble for UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea including a double for both owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trainer Eric Lemartinel, was the highlight of racing at Al Ain Racecourse yesterday evening.
The trio combined to win both the last two races, including the finale and official feature, a 2000m handicap aboard Hamza.
Soon in front, O’Shea drove his mount for home at the top of the long straight. The pair never looked likely to be caught with the horse winning for the first time since last March when he landed Sharjah Racecourse’s biggest race, the Ruler Of Sharjah Trophy.
“As I said before the race this fellow ran really well at Meydan last time and three starts back here at Al Ain,” said O’Shea. “So were pretty hopeful coming here today and he did it nicely. He was always happy out in front and then quickened when I asked so it was a good effort and perfect end to a good evening.”
O’Shea had already picked the right one in the penultimate race, a 1400m maiden, partnering Joori who was making it third time lucky to the relief of connections. He could have ridden the third, stable companion, Bainooni.
“To be honest we are all amazed it has taken her three attempts to win as we always thought she was one of our best youngsters,” said O’Shea. “However, she is a nervous type and tries to do too much so the fact they went quick today has helped her."
“Hopefully she has learned a lot and can build on this because she has plenty of ability.”
Trained on the track by Mohd Ramadan, Ubu Al Mels was produced fast and late by O’Shea, to land the opening 1000m handicap and initiate the jockey’s treble.
It was a sixth career victory for Ramadan’s charge, third over 1000m but first since Boxing Day 2015, over the same course and distance as this victory.
“The trainer was very bullish and has been proved right,” said O’Shea. “This 1000m really seems to suit the horse and he won quite readily in the end."
“It is a great start to the day.”
A duel ensued pretty much throughout the whole 1000m in a conditions contest in which ES Tango, under Sam Hitchcott, was locked in battle throughout with runner-up AF Mukhifaf and Richard Mullen.
Hitchcott’s mount enjoyed a definite advantage with just 100m to run but had to dig deeply to repel a renewed challenge from the second, finally prevailing by a head.
Trained by Ibrahim Aseel, who is enjoying his first season with a license, she was a fourth winner for the fledgling handler and has contributed half of those victories having also opened his account at Sharjah in November.
“She is very tough and is only going to improve,” said Hitchcott. “I do not think we were ever headed and she just kept responding when the second challenged. She is a nice filly.”
Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddled both the first and second in the only Thoroughbred race, an 1800m handicap with Sogno D’Amore running on strongly to deny stable companion, Entifaadha.
Never far off the pace, the winner was sent to the front about 300m out and never looked likely to be caught under Pat Cosgrave for whom it was a first win of the season.
Recently returned to the UAE for the first time since 2014, Cosgrave only started his local campaign on Thursday, while Sogno D’Amore was losing his maiden tag at the ninth attempt on his sixth UAE outing.
“It was my first time on the horse and I was always happy on him,” said Cosgrave. “He has plugged on really well in the straight and should stay further. I can see him winning again.”
After nine unsuccessful attempts, the Helal Al Alawi-trained Yalap Al Naif finally opened his account and in real style when turning the 1600m maiden into a procession.
Well away, he stalked the early pace under apprentice George Buckell who committed him for home early in the long straight.
They bounded clear and never looked likely to be caught to the delight of the jockey who said: “He did it very well today and has shown similar ability on a few occasions but also thrown in a few bad runs.
“I was in front plenty soon enough but we stole a few lengths and that proved crucial.”
The admirable MH Areeb made it eight career wins and third this season with a determined victory in a 1600m handicap. Trained by Elise Jeanne, it was also the horse’s third course and distance victory and, sent to the front 200m from home by Antonio Fresu, he always looked to be holding the late challenge of O’Shea aboard Tawajud.
“He is just a great horse to have in the yard and is so tough and consistent,” said Jeanne. “This was his seventh race of the season but he remains in great heart.”