15 December 2023

ERA Abu Dhabi Review

Dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winning jockey Cristian Demuro provided ample proof of why he is such a hot commodity in the saddle by signing off with another Abu Dhabi double on Thursday night, a haul that included a spectacular win aboard Helal Alalawi’s Joe Star in the Listed UAE Arabian Derby over 2200m and success partnering Ahmad bin Harmash’s Tohoku in the only Thoroughbred contest on the card. 

Demuro timed his ride aboard Joe Star to perfection in the feature event of the meeting at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. The four-year-old Al Mourtajez colt was the red hot name in the field and justified his billing with blistering late speed that made his National Stables teammate and stable companion Haka Du Soleil seem as if his part in the plot under champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea was to merely set the pace. 

Joe Star sat off the pace and was given a nudge in the straight after which he changed gears smoothly to hit the front with a powerful rangy stride just before the 200m marker. A further kick and he was gone, finishing two-and-a-half lengths clear of RB Stryngs Attached (Fawzi Nass/Adrie de Vries), who only just managed to hold on to second by a nose ahead of a determined Bahwan (Adil Mouchahi/Bernardo Pinheiro).

“He (Joe Star) is a good horse and it all depends on him. He is not easy to ride. Sometimes he plays around, but today he raced well and raced behind the leader and he’s good for the future. He’s shown he is capable of racing at Group 1 level in France and I hope he can be back here in higher profile events.” 


Demuro at the double 

Joe Star’s win was to be the first of a back-to-back double for Demuro on the card, the France-based rider delivering success with yet another brilliant ride aboard Ahmad bin Harmash’s Tohoku in the Fairmont Marina, a Non Winner event for juveniles over 1400m.

A rare race for juveniles on the Abu Dhabi turf saw Bin Harmash’s Aram set the pace along the rail under Gabriele Malune, with Ibrahim Al Hadhrami’s Ra’s Al Hadd a neck back under Ryan Curatolo. Turning for home Aram looked like she had wrapped it up despite the pressure being strong from Ra’s Al Hadd, but the trackers clearly had agendas of their own. 

Tohoku, put on the bridle by Demuro 600m in, was part of the three-horse tracking group that found themselves at least three lengths shy of the pace at the 200m marker. However, carrying winning momentum, they managed to snatch the lead off Aram and hit the line hard. 

Demuro eased Tohoku in the final 25m, but the momentum just carried him further away with Point Given (Bhupat Seemar/O’Shea), who was a half length behind. Al Mukhtar (Bin Harmash/Saif Al Balushi) finished a further short head back in third.

“Both rides were good and honestly I’ve had a good start to the season, and I hope I can continue with winning more races during the rest of my time here,” added Demuro, who has scored four times this season.


Ammar leads home 1-2 for Yas

The card got underway with Yas Racing enjoying a 1-2 in The Capital Gate, a 1600m maiden for Purebred Arabians, which attracted a full field of 16. And it was the Majed Al Jahoori-schooled and Bernardo Pinheiro-driven Ammar, who won the early battle to dictate the pace and galloped strong all the way to the finish as teammate Aaziza won the battle for the minor spots when finishing three-and-three-quarters of a length behind in second for trainer Eric Lemartinel and Jules Mobian. Al Dinari was a further two lengths adrift for Ahmed Al Mehairbi and Ben Coen.

The second event, another maiden over 1200m, witnessed Matar Ali Sayah Mohammed Al Mansoori claim a first success since 2011 courtesy of the Saeed Al Shamsi-trained LZ Bibi (Allaia Tiar), who made the most of Magic Touch’s (Abdallah Al Hammadi/Pat Cosgrave) drift towards the standside rail to win by two-and-a-half lengths. Air Force Xmansor (Adil Mouchahi/Pinheiro) was a further length-and-a-half back in third.

Champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Erst Oertel each collected a second win of the season courtesy AF Rami delivering the goods under Connor Beasley in the 1600m Etihad Towers handicap (0-90). Abubakar Daud’s Beau du Soleil was second, two-and-a-quarter lengths behind under Qais Al Busaidi, with ES Sudani (Hamad Al Marar/Adrie de Vries) a further three quarters of a length behind in third. 

The Wathba Stallions Cup for Private Owners (0-65, 2200m) handicap, that preceded the feature event of the programme, was won by the Abubakar Daud-trained Maimoun RS, who flew home under Beasley to bring the English rider a second-straight victory on the card, which was also a 22nd success for the season when seizing the initiative from AF Al Baher at the 200m marker and running clear to win by five lengths. AF Al Baher (Oertel/O’Shea) was second, a further length-and-a-quarter ahead of Hazem Al Wathba (Khalifa Al Neyadi/Saif Al Balushi).