Pinheiro double highlighted by feature race success with O’Shea also celebrating a brace in the capital

The six races at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Thursday were highlighted by the AED1 million 2200m Group 1 Emirates Championship and the valuable prize went to Yas Racing’s Ajrad Athbah, saddled by Majed Al Jahoori and completing a double on the card for jockey Bernardo Pinheiro.

Settled behind the early pace, the 5yo entire was committed for home early in the straight and never looked likely to be caught, the horse registering just his second career victory and first on turf.

Pinheiro said: “I am so grateful to the connections and that is the second year running we have won this race, with different horses. I was keen to be positive on him and he kept responding when I asked him.”

The capacity field of 16 may have contested a 1400m handicap but, from a long way out, AF Heraqle, sent straight to the front by Pinheiro, had the race at his mercy, the pair clear at halfway and always looking likely to hold on, despite the 9yo, previously a maiden after 22 starts, tiring in the final 150m.

Qaiss Aboud saddled the winner for Mutasem Mohammed Ghannam, celebrating his first ever UAE winner.

Pinheiro said: “I am delighted for the horse and connections as he has had his problems but the trainer and his team have done have a great job. I was drawn well so was keen to make the most of it and, luckily, it worked out well.”

Pat Cosgrave made a race winning move in a 1600m handicap, for horses foaled locally, when kicking for home entering the straight aboard AF Yatwy who just had enough in the locker to hold on from those challenging late around him.

The 5yo entire has now won two of just three career starts and is unbeaten on turf for Nisren Mahgoub and Abu Dhabi Racing.

Cosgrave said: “We were drawn very wide and that was a big performance from a young horse who could be exciting next season.”

Restricted to horses in private ownership, a 2200m handicap was turned into a procession by Tadhg O’Shea aboard AF Alzahi, chased home by stablemate AF Al Baher, both trained by Ernst Oertel for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.

Previously a maiden after five starts, the homebred 5yo entire proved a class above his 13 toiling opponents on this occasion.

O’Shea said: “He is a nice horse but I was a bit worried early on however, once I asked him he picked up. Hopefully he is a nice prospect for next season.”

The finale and only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2400m handicap, also went to O’Shea, this time combining with Bhupat Seemar aboard Webinar in the colours of Abdulrahman Salah Al Rashed, the 4yo Dubawi gelding now the winner of half his four career appearances.
A winner in France, this was just his second local outing having made his UAE bow on dirt at Jebel Ali.

The opening 1400m maiden, for horses foaled in the UAE was dominated by three horses who were originally reserves, Ruwani winning easily from AS Shamoos and AF Alzahem.

A 4yo filly saddled by Abdallah Al Hamamdi for Al Ajban Stables, Ruwani shot clear early in the straight under Al Moatasem Al Balushi, shedding her maiden tag at the fifth attempt, all on this turf track.

A promising second, in a 1200m maiden on debut, she had struggled in better company subsequently but clearly relished this drop back in class.