Mukalal Lands Abu Dhabi Feature for Erwan Charpy

Abu Dhabi’s second meeting of the new season on Friday was highlighted by the sole Thoroughbred race on the six race-card and, is so often the case on the turf in the capital, they produced a thriller in a 1600m rated conditions stakes, won in dramatic fashion by local debutant Mukalal.

Previously trained in Britain by Owen Burrows, the homebred 4-year-old gelded son of Mawatheeq won twice for his previous handler and was returning here from a break of 408 days. In a race contested at what appeared a more than generous gallop. Mukalal was patiently ridden by Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea with the pair nearer last than first on the home turn before entering the final straight.

However, they were soon on the heels of the leaders, albeit involved in a scrap with at least half of the 14 runners, before hitting the front in the final 100m to register the horse’s second career victory having shed his maiden in a 1400m Leicester handicap on what proved to be his penultimate start before his switch to the UAE.

O’Shea said: “It is great to ride this winner for these connections. I owe both owner and trainer so much because they were, basically, my initial route into the UAE.

“Erwan was pretty bullish about this horse, despite his long absence from the track and when the trainer is confident you always know you have a big chance. Yet again he was proved correct and he seems to have a nice new horse on his hands.”

Charpy added: “We hope this is a really nice new horse in the yard, so for him to win that like first time is very pleasing, I guess we now have to look at the National Day Cup.”

Restricted to 3-year-olds bred in the UAE, the opening 1400m maiden probably only had one leader throughout, with debutant Dhafra sent straight to the front by Fabrice Veron and, apart from a short lived challenge halfway up the short straight from eventual runner-up Jawaal, the duo never looked in any real danger.

Homebred by Sheikha Alyaza bint Sultan Al Nahyan, the winner may have only crossed the line half a length to the good, but, having shown obvious signs of inexperience, displayed traits that she is capable of a lot better, quickening stylishly when challenged.

Veron said: “She is a nice filly and that was a very pleasing debut because she can only improve. She was happy in front and, once challenged, responded very well to win quite nicely.

“It would be nice to think she has more to offer looking forward because she clearly has ability.”

The following 1400m maiden for 3-year-old fillies was won in good style by Ihtesham, confidently ridden by Szczepan Mazur for his main local employer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, supplying both the trainer and owner, Ben Shahwan Arabian Horse Stables, their first wins of the new campaign.

Never far off the pace in a race seemingly run at a generous gallop, Mazur urged his mount to the front fully 600m out and, having shrugged off what, at the time, appeared a winning challenge from runner-up Sahaba, the filly made a very pleasing winning debut.

Mazur said: That is very pleasing as it is a first win this season for my boss and main stable.
“She is a nice filly who was probably headed, but then battled back very well and showed a great attitude.
“We hope she is very smart and can build on this, hopefully in bigger races later this season and in the future.”

In his post-race interview Mazur was pretty bullish about the chances of Ihtesham’s stable companion Jabalini in the 1600m handicap and, an hour later, he was fully vindicated having steered the 4-year-old colt to a cosy victory.

Homebred by the Royal Cavalry Oman, the 4-year-old colt is now unbeaten after just two career outings, having won a 1200m Abu Dhabi maiden on debut in March, and looks an exciting prospect.

Having been settled in midfield, Mazur urged his partner to close on the home turn and once the pair hit the front early in the straight the result was never in doubt.

Mazur said: As I said before the race we were very hopeful about this horse and he certainly has not let us down. He has not had much racing and it would be nice to think he can build on this and progress.”

Having chased the early pace in a 1400m handicap, Prado Du Panjshir hit the front under Antonio Fresu about 500m out and galloped on resolutely to land the spoils having fended off a determined challenge from Habbebah who was seeking to provide Al Hadhrami a quick double.

However, that was not to be and Fresu’s mount, saddled by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for owner Nasir Askar, ran out a fairly comfortable winner to double his career tally on his sixth start, all in the UAE on what was his first start for new connections.

Al Mheiri said: “We have been very happy with this new horse at home and came here quite hopeful in what appeared a competitive race, so we have to be pleased by that winning effort on his first start for us.”

Few Abu Dhabi meetings pass without a winner for Champion Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and his main handler, Ernst Oertel, and they combined to win a 2200m handicap for horses in private ownership with AF Taraha, the mount of Antonio Fresu who was completing a double.

Settled in the middle of the pack throughout the early stages, the 6-year-old mare, having been eased into contention by Fresu 600m from home, made smooth progress to lead inside the final 300m and was never in danger of being caught,