Shadwell Treble Highlighted By Feature Race Success Of Alfareeq As Curtain Comes Down On Meydan Season

Racing at Meydan on Thursday, the final meeting of the season at the UAE’s flagship racecourse and penultimate fixture of the whole local campaign, was highlighted by the Zabeel Trophy sponsored by Emirates Airline, won in taking fashion by Alfareeq.

A 1600m turf rated conditions stakes, it appeared wide open on paper, but as it transpired, very few were ever able to really get involved with eventual fifth Ajwad setting a decent gallop. Passing the 200m pole, he was challenged by the winner and eventual runner-up Seniority who then had the race between them, but a duel never really materialised with Fresu’s mount pulling clear in the final 100m, crossing the line almost a length to the good.

Homebred, the 4-year-old Dark Angel gelding won once in France for Freddy Head and was winning locally for the first time at the sixth attempt.

Fresu said: “He ran really well last time when second at Jebel Ali behind a smart horse. Obviously that was on dirt and we came here hoping for another big run back on turf. I was always going well and he then picked up smartly when I asked before battling on well. It was a good performance in a decent contest.”

Earlier, a 1200m turf handicap, the Al Tayer Motors Handicap Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, proved something of a benefit for horses in the Shadwell colours, the world famous blue and white silks filling the first four places home.

It was Antonio Fresu, wearing a distinguishing pink cap, who produced Mutaraffa in virtually the last stride to land the spoils to deny stablemate Alkaraama and Bernardo Pinheiro. Both are trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, as is the fourth, Taneen with Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s Yaalail occupying third in a Shadwell clean sweep of the first four places.

Trainer and jockey completed a treble in the longest race on the card, a 2410m turf handicap, the DP World Handicap Sponsored By DP World, with a gutsy victory from Good Tidings, this time denying Shadwell whose Al Qaqaa was a gallant second.

The race developed into a duel throughout the final 400m when Fresu’s mount went to the lead but the runner-up refused to buckle and kept fighting back, perhaps even regaining the initiative briefly. However, as the line approached, Good Tidings was just about on top.

The opening 1400m turf maiden, the Emirates Stakes sponsored By Emirates Airline, went to local debutant Mcmanaman, ridden by Sam Hitchcott for Al Rashid Stables and Doug Watson.

Settled just behind the leaders, the 3-year-old Dark Angel colt eased into contention halfway up the long Meydan turf straight before hitting the front in the final 75m, ultimately winning cosily.

Raced four times in the UK by Richard Fahey, including finishing third in the 1000m Listed National Stakes last July, he was then sold to current connections for what may prove a good value 22,000gns at Tattersalls in October.

Watson said: “We expected a good run because he has been training great and had intended to run him a month ago, but we had a paperwork issue.
“His form in England was good, so we knew the ability and potential was there, so it is nice great to see him.

Jockey and trainer were immediately celebrating a double after the smooth success of Shadwell’s Bawaasil in the Emirates NBD Handicap Sponsored By Emirates NBD, a 1400m turf handicap. Settled well off the speed, in a race seemingly contested at a generous gallop, Hitchcott was still nearer last than first of the capacity field of 16 entering the final 300m.

It was then that he made a beeline for the far side rail and the pair swept past numerous rivals to hit the front about 100m out after which they were never going to be caught.

A homebred 6-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream he was actually doubling his career tally and opening his local account, after a dozen previous attempts, in the process. His only previous success was posted in September 2018 over 1600m at Bath when trained in the UK by Owen Burrows.

It was also a first UAE winner to race in the name of Shadwell after the sad passing of its founder, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Hitchcott said: “What a perfect start to the evening both for myself and all Doug’s team at Red Stables. I am delighted for this horse because he has been threatening to do that all season but has had no luck. Today, thankfully, everything just fell into place.”

Officially the best of two dirt races and restricted to 3-year-olds, the Longines Stakes Presented By Longines, a 1900m conditions race was turned into a procession by Rare Ninja whose six opponents may as well have stayed at home as they never looked likely to lay a glove on him.

Smartly away under Royston Ffrench, the Distorted Humor colt, previously a maiden after eight attempts, was soon in front and even at halfway appeared the likely winner with most of his rivals already beaten or seemingly struggling.

When Ffrench set sail for home at the top of the straight the race was over a contest, the pair running on strongly to win in style for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer and provide owners Ecurie Ama Zingteam with a first UAE winner in their debut season locally.

Bin Ghadayer said: “They are really nice new owners, so I am so pleased for them, especially as they have been so easy to train for and take everything in their stride, whatever the news.

“This horse has run plenty of good races in defeat and everything was spot on tonight. The distance really suited and Royston gave him a great ride.”

Also on dirt, the Gulf News Handicap Sponsored By Gulf News, a 1400m handicap was totally dominated by Bochart, sent straight to the front by Fabrice Veron after which they probably never sighted any of their eight toiling rivals.

Saddled by Satish Seemar for Al Bait Mutawahed Team, the 8-year-old Dubawi gelding has now won seven times for current connections having joined them as a maiden after nine starts for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin, who also bred him.

Seemar said: “We have had to run him in stronger races than this, but coming here tonight we were very confident and he did not let us down.”

The concluding 2000m turf handicap and final Meydan race of the campaign, the Azizi Developments Handicap Sponsored By Azizi Developments, went to Zorion ridden by Omani apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi in the silks of Abdallah Al Mamari for Helal Al Alawi.

The 2020/21 UAE season concludes at Al Ain tomorrow evening, the first of seven races scheduled for 7pm.