23 November 2015

Moonlight Dash Gives Apprentice Crouch First UAE Victory

Sunday’s third meeting of the season at Abu Dhabi was highlighted by a 2200m handicap, the only Thoroughbred race on the card and a memorable one for young jockey Hector Crouch.

Stable apprentice for Satish Seemar, he partnered the yard’s Moonlight Dash to a comfortable victory, the pair surging clear just before entering the home straight.

In a matter of strides they were clear, leaving 13 rivals in their wake, and, despite tiring close home, crossing the line with sufficient in hand.

“We have made a good start to the season,” said Seemar. “The horses are running well and he did that nicely tonight.”

Crouch added: “It is a great opportunity for me and I am grateful to Mr Seemar and everybody involved.

“I was always going strongly in behind and then he really picked up well when I asked him.

“It is obviously special to open my account here and hopefully there are a few more winners to come.”

Eric Lemartinel saddled the 1-2 in the main Purebred Arabian race, also a 2200m handicap, with Wayne Smith and Estourah denying Tadhg O’Shea and RB Rich Surprise.

In front fully 800m out, Smith’s mount was actually headed 300m from home, by Live Rich, but Estourah fought back and was soon in front again.

Live Rich would not go away but he was eventually denied second by O’Shea’s mount who was finishing fast.

However, the line appeared in time for Smith and Estourah.

“Eric said to be positive on her,” said Smith. “He was certainly right as she has galloped all the way to the line and really fought hard.

“I was briefly headed in the straight but she found plenty and battled back very gamely.

“It was a nice spare ride and full credit to Eric and his team.”

Having made a winning debut, over 1000m at Sharjah, just over two weeks ago, the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained AF Maqayes maintained his unbeaten record in the opening 1400m conditions race.

Never far off the pace under O’Shea, he had to work a lot harder for his victory on this occasion to get past Hakim with the pair apparently having the race between themselves from a long way out.

However, as the line approached, Sattar Al Reef was flying home and little separated the trio at the line with Hakim denied second close home.

“He won well first time,” said O’Shea. “This was a better race but he has shown a determined attitude and is hopefully still improving.

“The 1400m is probably far enough for him at this stage but he is a horse we really like.”

The following 1600m maiden saw similar tactics employed to those used on AF Maqayes, this time Royston Ffrench the successful tactician aboard Wazn for Helal Al Alawi.

Having stalked the early speed, Ffrench set sail for home early in the straight with his willing mount quickening well.

They never looked likely to be caught with Wazn opening his account at the 14th attempt.

“The yard are in decent form,” said Ffrench. “This horse’s best previous performances had been on turf and the 1600m suits him.”

The Al Alawi-trained Huyam and Ffrench looked set to post a comfortable victory in the conditions race, over the same course and distance, when sweeping past AF Rahia.

However, his rival would not go down without a fight and, briefly, appeared set to regain the initiative before Ffrench revitalised his mount to assert close home.

“He always runs a good race this horse,” said Ffrench. “He has taken me there going strongly before the second fought back but I was always pretty confident.”

Jockey Chris Hayes has made a very favourable impression in this his first season in the UAE and he produced Munaaf with a telling late challenge to snatch victory in a 1400m handicap.

The winner, trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi, made relentless late progress to catch Es Maydan who, seemingly, had the race won with as little as 100m to run.

“I am really enjoying my time here,” said Hayes. “I am based with Dhruba Selvaratnam and our horses have been running well.

“I have also picked up some nice spare rides, like this one and it is a great experience.

“I thought we were going to get up and we just made it in time with the horse really responding well close home.”