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The penultimate meeting of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club season, on Sunday, was highlighted by a 1400m handicap, the only Thoroughbred race on the card and claimed in a photograph by Indescribable under the double-winning Pat Dobbs.
Trained by Doug Watson for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, Indescribable looked a bit unlucky last Sunday when a close third over 1600m but made amends here, though only just.
He and Dobbs were locked in a titanic tussle throughout the final 200m with Richard Mullen and the same owner’s Ejbaar, saddled by Satish Seemar.
For Indescribable it was a second UAE victory, having won a 1000m Jebel Ali handicap in November.
“Things did not really pan out for him last week,” said Dobbs. “I was always pretty happy today, sitting off the pace and he took me there strongly. He has then really dug deep when the second threw down his challenge.”
Earlier, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami saddled Arif to land a 1400m handicap to make it two wins from just three career outings and the horse has now won both his turf outings at Abu Dhabi having finished second on the Al Ain dirt on debut.
Never far off the pace, he was eased to the front by Dobbs on the home turn and looked set for an easy victory.
However, he appeared to idle in the final 200m and Dhamin was closing fast as the line approached but was unable to reel in Arif.
“He is a lovely horse; he looks the part and has a great action,” said Dobbs. “He jumped well and has plenty of speed so I was always travelling well.
“We were left in front earlier than ideal but the line came in time and he will only improve with experience.”
Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda is enjoying a fantastic season, particularly with horses he has bred himself and trained by Ernst Oertel. The combination struck again in the opening 1400m maiden with debutant AF Asheham who was never headed under Antonio Fresu.
Sixteen may have gone to post but few were ever involved with the winner setting a decent gallop before quickening clear in the straight.
“He is a nice horse who is going to improve as he was still quite green,” said Fresu. “He was happy out in front and we were able to control the tempo before he quickened when I asked him.
“He galloped on strongly and could be a nice prospect for next season.”
The same owner and trainer celebrated a double, this time it was Tadhg O’Shea aboard the winner, Ibn Harmany Al Zobair, who led close home in a 1200m handicap. Royston Ffrench was soon in front aboard Naiem, tracked by Richard Mullen aboard AF Khafajeh, a stable companion of the eventual winner but who was beaten early in the straight.
Ffrench’s enterprise appeared likely to prevail but his mount started to tire about 200m from home when O’Shea was able to conjure up a decisive late challenge from Ibn Harmany Al Zobair who was not actually bred by the owner.
“He stays 1400m well and this 1200m would be his minimum trip requirement,” said O’Shea. “There was a strong gallop early on which has really helped him utilise his stamina close home.”
Jockey Fresu was another to complete a double but had to work much harder aboard Cheik Roque, trained by Erwan Charpy, who ground down Da’Areen in the closing stages in a 1600m handicap.
The latter tried valiantly to make all under Royston Ffrench whose charge responded bravely when challenged by Fresu’s mount but was finally passed in the final 100m.
“I won on him over course an distance in January when he produced a very similar performance,” said Fresu. “He appreciated the return to these conditions today after a run on dirt at Al Ain and he is a decent performer at this level who loves a battle.”
Jim Crowley tried to lead all the way on HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Aljazi in a 1600m conditions contest for fillies and mares and the tactic looked set to pay off entering the straight.
However, the Abdallah Al Hammadi-trained Bushrah Al Reef and Fernando Jara were giving chase and a duel developed throughout the final 300m with Jara’s mount finally landing the spoils.
“She was really brave and battled strongly when I asked her,” said Jara. “The runner-up looked to be travelling strongly but my mare is gutsy and was able to wear her down where it mattered.”