08 April 2023

Rodrigues lands Al Ain Cup for Al Mahar after Watson confirmed champion alongside O’Shea & Al Nabooda

Friday night’s final meeting of the UAE season was at Al Ain, seven races highlighted by the Al Ain Cup, a 2000m Prestige contest and apprentice Marcelino Rodrigues found a gallant partner in Suny Du Loup who refused to cede victory to persistent challenger Snan.

Riding for Hamad Al Mahar in the silks of Hamad Ali Murshed Khamis Al Marar, Rodrigues dictated the pace early on before passed by Snan and Oscar Chavez early in the straight.

However, Rodrigues’ mount kept battling back, regaining the initiative inside the final 75m, the 5yo entire winning for the fifth time after 15 starts.

For horses foaled in the UAE, the opening 2000m maiden was won in determined fashion by Mubhir Al Ain, never far away under Antonio Fresu, riding for Sh Hamed bin Khadim bin Butti and Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

Bred by Al Ain Stud, the 4yo colt was opening his account at the fourth attempt, having finished runner-up on both his two most recent appearances, the latest over this course and distance a month ago.

Fresu completed a double in a 1400m maiden for 4yos, partnering Majdy to a relatively straightforward success for Jean de Roualle who trains the colt on the Al Ain track for Yas Racing. The homebred was winning at the fifth time of asking and on just his second start locally.

Doug Watson dominated the only Thoroughbred contest, a 2000m handicap, saddling a 1-2 with Exciting Days and Oscar Chavez landing the spoils in the colours of Al Bait Mutawahed Team, the pair chased home by stable companion Meqdam under Sam Hitchcott.

The 6yo gelded son of Blame has now won thrice, all in the UAE, having landed a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden at the very end of October 2021 and scoring over 1800m on the turf at Meydan Racecourse, on his penultimate start, at the beginning of February.

The success was enough to confirm Watson as Champion Trainer for a record eighth time, joining Tadhg O’Shea and Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda who defended their jockey and owner titles successfully.

Having been denied a brace in the feature in the interim, Chavez completed a double in the 1800m maiden, this time combining with Al Rahmani Racing and Ahmed Al Mehairbi, 4yo colt Jafar Des Arnets getting off the mark at the seventh attempt.

Taj Al Izz and Richard Mullen hit the front about 450m from home in a 1600m handicap for horses in private ownership and the pair stayed there, the 5yo entire digging deep, doubling his career tally in the process for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and Ben Shahwan Arabian Horse Stables.

Trainer Al Hadhrami was actually responsible for each of the first three home.

The finale and concluding race of the UAE campaign, a 1400m maiden for fillies and mares, was won by Hitchcott aboard Hamloola, originally the first reserve, in the colours of Al Asayl for Salem Al Ketbi.