Fresu & O’Shea enjoy Abu Dhabi doubles with Somoud proving his class in big race prep

Racing at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Thursday was officially highlighted by the Abu Dhabi Classics for both 4yo fillies and colts foaled in the UAE but the proven class on show was competing in HH The President Cup Prep, over the same 2200m course and distance as the Group One feature itself, won in each of the last two years by Somoud who repeated his 2021 victory in this.

Ridden by Antonio Fresu, completing a double on the card, for Jean de Roualle and Yas Racing, the homebred 9yo entire was initially settled in rear before his Italian jockey clearly decided the pace was not quick enough and eased his mount in behind the leaders leaving the back straight. They hit the front about 300m from home and always looked to be holding on.

De Roualle said: “I am very happy and Antonio gave him a perfect ride off a slow pace and did not give the horse a hard race which was ideal with the big race a month away. He won this prep two years ago and then won the main race so hopefully he can do so again because he was penalised today and probably only 80% fit.”

Over 1400m for 4yos, the Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic, which holds Prestige status, was turned into a procession by Muram who shot clear with about 275m remaining under Tadhg O’Shea and was never going to be denied her second career success, on her fourth start, for Jaber Bittar and Al Reef Stables.

O’Shea said: “Luckily I was available to ride her tonight and she was very professional. She had good form in the book and has delivered the goods. This 1400m, perhaps 1600m, seem ideal for her,”

Half an hour later, the colts’ equivalent, also afforded a Prestige classification, proved a less straightforward task for Fadwaan, but arguably impressive, Fresu completing a treble, this time in the colours of Al Rahmani Racing for Ahmed Al Mehairbi, a second winner on the card for the trainer.

The colt was maintaining an unbeaten record having won his maiden on debut, over 1500m at Al Ain, 40 days ago.

Fresu said: “It has been a great night and I am lucky to be aboard these good horses. To be honest I think he was happier on the Al Ain dirt last time but he trains on dirt and this was obviously a stronger race so hopefully he can build on this, on either surface.”

The opening 1200m handicap turned into a thriller with Oscar Chavez and AS Jezan, having hit the front entering the final 275m, just clinging on to gain the victory from JAP Mabroka and JAP Hadad, both finishing fast but, ultimately too late. Ahmed Al Mehairbi saddled the winner for Sheikh Hamed bin Khadim bin Butti.

Conceding weight to his 13 rivals, the 5yo entire, on just his sixth career start, was doubling his career tally having made a winning debut, over 1400m here in Abu Dhabi, on his debut in December 2021, earning Prestige honours in the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic.

For horses in private ownership, a 1400m handicap, produced a similarly close finish, in this case ES Sudani delivered fast and late by Fresu to snatch victory in the colours of Salem Al Murshed Al Marar and a seventh winner of the season for rookie trainer Hamad Al Marar.

As per the previous winner, he too was a 5yo entire winning for the second time, adding this prize to a 1200m Abu Dhabi maiden victory he enjoyed on his penultimate start in December.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card, the concluding 1600m handicap, provided O’Shea a double, partnering Western Winter to victory for Bhupat Seemar and Athbah Racing, more commonly associated with Purebred Arabians but starting to diversify.