١٩ فبراير ٢٠٢٤

ERA Abu Dhabi Review

Two-time Champion Jockey Richard Mullen made the most of opportunity to land the prestigious Group 1 HH The President Cup aboard RB Kingmaker to spark joyous celebrations at Abu Dhabi.

Partnered on his two previous starts by the absent Cristian Demuro and shunned by Adrie de Vries who sided with French raider Al Riffaa, Helal Alalawi’s five-year-old travelled powerfully throughout under Mullen who made his challenge turning for home.

Spotting a seam on the inside rail, Mullen asked his mount to quicken, and the response was immediate as the National Stables-owned entire shot past eventual runner-up Ajrad Athbah (Majed Al Jahoori/Bernardo Pinheiro) to stretch clear by five-and-a-quarter lengths. 

De Vries and Al Riffaa stuck on for third a further neck in arrears, but it was Mullen and RB Kingmaker’s day with the margin of victory utterly comprehensive.

“I was gutted three weeks back when it looked like Mujeeb was likely to miss the race when he had a setback as he had run such a great race in the prep,” said Mullen who was celebrating his fifth victory in the prestigious event. 

“I’d then been booked to ride Thaydah Athbah but there was a turn of events which meant they decided to bring their jockey from Saudi so, on Monday afternoon, it didn’t look like I had a ride in the race.

“I went to bed and at 9am on Tuesday, I got a call from Helal (Alalawi) to say would I ride Kingmaker - that conversation didn’t last too long!

“Obviously, I jumped at the chance as he is a class horse and had run some very good races as well as being closely matched with Mujeeb. They are probably two of the best local Arabians round here as he ran a very good race in the Jewel Crown and was second in the prep.

“When a horse is travelling so well, they take you through races so much easier and you can pick your position which, in turn, makes a jockey’s life so much easier.”

Mullen was fulsome in his praise for conditioner Alalawi and all at National Stables: “I must say a huge thanks to Helal and his team because at the declaration stage I didn’t have a ride in the race – he certainly came to the rescue for me!

“I couldn’t compliment the horse enough as he was very well trained and prepped by Helal and his sons, so it was a great result for all at National Stables as they work extremely hard.

“Helal has been very good to me over the years and has supported me so to land him a big one was lovely.”   

 

IN-FORM DOBBS LANDS THOROUGHBRED FEATURE

Pat Dobbs continued his fine run of form in the saddle when booting Nibras Passion to a third career victory in the thoroughbred HH The President Cup (1700m) for trainer Ismael Mohammed, paying Mysterious Night a handsome compliment in the process. 

Runner-up to the talented Godolphin Group campaigner on his previous start at Meydan, the six-year-old son of Iffraaj had to fight for some light in the straight under Dobbs with space at a premium.

However, once the Irish rider – enjoying a terrific season in the UAE – had burrowed his way through traffic, the partnership hit the front with 100m to run and held enough in reserve to repel runner-up Fort Payne (Adrie de Vries/Nicolas Caullery) by half-a-length, while Ventura Rebel claimed third under Said Al Balushi (Ahmad bin Harmash). 

“He’s normally held up for a late run, but he had a nice position today and he relaxed well before he quickened up well to win his race,” said Dobbs.

“Ismael has done very well with his horses – he doesn’t have a big stable, but he places them very well.” 

 

BEASLEY AND AL HADHRAMI DOUBLE UP

Heros De Lagarde bounced back from defeat in Oman to decisively land the Group 2 Liwa Oasis (1400m) and hand jockey/trainer combination of Connor Beasley and Ibrahim Al Hadhrami a double on the card. 

The duo, who had struck in the opening race of the prestigious meeting with Singasong Al Maury in the 1600m maiden, teamed up with the seven-year-old to win over 1200m at Abu Dhabi last month and took the step up in trip in his stride. 

Settled in mid division travelling sweetly, the talented grey lengthened well in the straight under the championship leading rider, hitting the front inside the final 200m to register a cosy length-and-a-half success from Saifaldin Deeb trainee Ekleel Athbah (Alexis Moreno) and AF Maqam (Ernst Oertel/Jules Mobian) who was a further nose behind in third. 

Beasley and Al Hadhrami didn’t have to wait long for their first success on the card courtesy of Singasong Al Maury, a promising second on his debut behind Al Dinari last month, who went one better under a strong ride to power past the Ben Coen-ridden Kombat Hipolyte (Ahmed Al Mehairbi) inside the final 200m to score by a length-and-a-quarter. 

Eric Martinel trainee Maanar stayed on well to take third under Jules Mobian who climbed off the Meydan canvas after being unshipped from his intended ride before the opening event on Friday evening. 

 

PAIVA POUNCES TO SPRING SURPRISE

Trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi, narrowly beaten in the opener, gained swift compensation in the ensuing Wathba Stallions Cup 0-70 handicap when Meeqat found plenty in the closing stages to score decisively under Sandro Paiva. 

The winner looked vulnerable with 200m to run as RB Bestevah (Abdul Aziz Al Balushi) crept closer on the rail, but Paiva had kept a little up his sleeve and his six-year-old partner kept going gamely for a three-length triumph, the second of his 14-race career. AF Soqrat, ridden by Tadgh O’Shea for Ernst Oertel, was a further length behind in third. 

Paiva completed a swift double on the card as the improving Diyaah reversed from with Alwarry to lift the Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1 (1600m) and give trainer Mohamed Daggash a first winner of the campaign. 

The prominently ridden Caram’bar (Alexis Moreno) found plenty in the straight, despite hanging left, but couldn’t resist the sparkling turn of foot of the 75-rated winner who sprung a surprise in beating a number of higher-rated rivals by a length-and-a-half and upwards.

Alwarry, who held every chance in the straight under Ben Coen, was back in third, a further length-and-a-half adrift for Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

 

BENNETT AND BITTAR COMBINE FOR SUCCESS

Rider Charlie Bennett recorded a second winner of the campaign when Unlimited snatched the 2200m Dhayah Fort handicap for in-form trainer Jaber Bittar, gamely holding off the Doug Watson-trained Winds Of Fortune (Pat Dobbs) in the dying strides to score by half-a-length. 

Ernst Oertel trainee AF Almoheeb, who cut out the running under Tadgh O’Shea, gamely stick to his task to cling on to third, a further half-a-length adrift in third.