Ottoman and Cosgrave storm home in Abu Dhabi feature

Racing returned to the capital on Sunday when the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club stages six races, highlighted by the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Prep, a 2200m rated conditions contest won easily by Ottoman under an enterprising ride from Pat Cosgrave.

A capacity field of may have gone to post but only three ever mattered, including RB Torch who ended up well beaten having been headed just over halfway by Ottoman. Cosgrave had stalked the pedestrian pace being set by RB Torch, in company with Harrab and the final 600m was dominated by that pair until the 400m pole when Cosgrave went for home and soon had the prize secured.

Trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, the 4yo colt has now won four of just nine career starts and would have appeared to improved again, having finished last season progressing nicely with a pair of Group Three victories. He had some big names well beaten off here, albeit probably the beneficiary canny tactics from his jockey.

Connections were jubilant in the parade ring and Al Hammadi said: “We have always really liked this horse and that was just brilliant. Hopefully we can go for the big race itself now.”

Cosgrave added: “He really enjoyed himself just bowling along and then, when I asked him to quicken, he responded well off a modest gallop. That was a good performance.”

Dane O’Neill then combined with the same connections to land the following 1400m maiden for 3yos, delivering their Goulash to lead in the last stride to deny AF Mualami who himself had just grabbed the initiative from a battling AF Mathakeel who had led from the outset.

All ten runners were making their debuts and Goulash was one of several who appeared clueless early on before the penny drop after which she picked up stylishly.

O’Neill said: “Fair play to the filly because she was green but also very willing so it was a very pleasing debut from a promising type.”

For horses foaled in the UAE, the opening 1200m maiden was won in good style by JAP Alhattal, saddled by Irfan Ellahi for Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum.

The 5yo homebred was settled just behind the early pace, set by stable companion JAP Nadih, by Royston French who waited until about 300m from home before driving his mount to the front, the race soon in safekeeping.

A first success of the season for both jockey and trainer, it was a case of third time lucky for the winner who was sixth on his 1400m Abu Dhabi debut, exactly a year earlier, before finishing third over this course and distance five weeks later.

Ellahi said: “He ran very well over 1200m here last time and had been going well at home so we were quite hopeful. We will look for another 1200m race.”

The following 1600m handicap for horses in private ownership developed into a thrilling duel throughout the final 300m when Fertile Du Craote and Sandro Paiva hit the front, the pair appearing the likely winners.

However, the horse they passed, AF Soqrat, who had been in front from some way out, refused to accept defeat and slowly inched back ahead, hitting the front again in the dying strides.

Like so many successful in these races, the winning 5yo entire is a Khlid Khalifa Al Nabooda homebred trained by Ernst Oertel, this one partnered by Malin Holmberg and registering his second career victory but first on turf.

Holmberg said: “We were drawn wide so I decided to stay there and he was pretty keen throughout but, when the other horse headed us, he has really battled back well so all credit to the horse who has shown a great attitude.”

Owner and trainer were soon celebrating a double after Al Nabooda’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea made very post a winning one aboard AF Mahzamy in the following 2200m handicap.

Seemingly allowed to set modest fractions, O’Shea quickened the tempo with about 600m remaining at which point Waadh loomed as a danger but, as that one weakened with about 350m left to go, O’Shea committed for home and the race, as a contest at least, was over.

Homebred, the 4yo colt has now won half of his four starts, his other success, when losing his maiden tag on his second start, having been registered in February when landing the Al Ain Derby, a contest with Prestige status. This was just his second turf outing.

O’Shea said: “That was a good, tough, performance from a young horse perfectly prepared for this by the team at home. We had a lovely light weight and we thought he would stay the trip well so I was happy to be positive.”

It was Cosgrave’s turn to complete a double, landing the finale and only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1400m handicap, aboard Spirit Of Light, sporting the silks of Sayed Hashish for Erwan Charpy.

In what appeared likely to be a blanket finish approaching the final 150m, Cosgrave, who had settled his mount nearer last than first and off the rail, suddenly appeared sown the centre of the track and they stormed clear in the final 100m to win easily.

A 4yo gelded son of Dark Angel, he was winning for the second time, adding this to a 1400m maiden on the Meydan turf back in January.

Cosgrave said: “This horse was running well last season without much luck at times and everything fell right for him tonight in what appeared a competitive race.”