Ziani and Mailshot land Abu Dhabi feature in style

The best was saved to last at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening, a six race card highlighted by the finale, a 1600m conditions contest, won in breathtaking fashion by Mailshot who stormed clear passing the 200m pole under Xavier Ziani.

The fixture’s only Thoroughbred race it attracted a capacity field of 14 and the vast majority were in front of Ziani entering the straight when Ziani took aim at a gap on the rail. His mount responded, shooting through and sweeping past rivals, soon hitting the front and staying on strongly.

A 7yo gelded son of Hard Spun, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum, he now has eight victories to his name, four in the UAE and two over this 1600m Abu Dhabi course and distance.

Ziani said: “This horse loves it here at Abu Dhabi and to be ridden patiently like that. We were luck that the gap opened on the rail and he really enjoyed running past horses.
“It is the owner’s birthday so it is particularly pleasing to ride him a winner tonight.”

For 4yos only, the opening 1200m maiden was turned into a procession by Sanad, the only one of the dozen runners ever seriously involved. Quickly away, Yas Racing’s homebred 4yo colt was sent straight to the front by Adrie de Vries. They quickened clear early in the short straight and put the race to bed with fully 350m left to run.

Trained in Al Ain by Jean de Roualle, the colt was making a winning local debut on his fourth start, his best effort in his native France achieved when finishing third in the middle of three appearances.

De Vries said: “The trainer was confident and said this horse had a touch of class and I would have to agree because that was impressive.
“I did not have to be hard on him and was just keeping him up to his work in the home straight.”

The versatile and progressive AF Alajaj pulled clear with Ashton Tourettes in a 1400m handicap with the remaining 11 well beaten in behind.

The latter tried hard but was never getting to AF Alajaj, partnered confidently by Tadhg O’Shea for his main employer, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel who trains most of the owner’s string.

It was a fourth career win from just six starts for the homebred 4yo colt who was third to Ashton Tourettes over 1700m on the dirt at Sharjah on their seasonal debuts, a reversal O’Shea was quick to take the blame for.

O’Shea said: “I was at fault when he was beaten at Sharjah and he is a very nice horse, certainly Group class. He needs to be ridden as a good horse and I probably hit the front too soon here but certainly did at Sharjah.
“He was a big baby last season but has really grown up and he should have a bright future.”

A second, weaker, 1400m handicap restricted to horses foaled in the UAE, was won in dramatic fashion by Wakeel W’Rsan who finished fast and late under Ray Dawson with the pair snatching the prize in the dying strides from AF Alareeq who himself had only just fought his way past early leader AF Nafece.

The winner, saddled by Jaci Wickham for W’Rsan Stables, was registering a third career success but one that looked most unlikely as he was still nearer last than first exiting the home turn. However, the 6yo entire horse flew home to add to his previous victories in a 1700m Sharjah maiden last December and, a month later, a 2200m handicap here in the capital.

Dawson, doubling his tally in this his debut UAE season, said: “Jaci said to ride him confidently as she thought he had a good chance and she was right. We were outpaced early on but luckily the gaps opened in the straight and he stayed on very well.”

Salem Al Ketbi then opened his account for the season, with just his seventh runner, saddling seasonal debutante Nadhra to land a 1600m conditions contest for fillies and mares, Richard Mullen performing the steering in the silks of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Homebred by the Al Asayl team, the 4yo filly was doubling her own career tally in the process, adding this victory to a 1600m handicap she landed in the capital in March when losing her maiden tag at the third attempt on her turf debut.

From three turf outings she has been defeated just once, when third in the 2400m Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R3, her final outing of last season.

Mullen said: “That was a good performance under top weight and from a wide draw but her form in the book looks good. That was very pleasing because we thought she would need the run.”

For horses in private ownership, a 1600m handicap was won in determined fashion by ES Rubban, driven past AF Arrab with about 275m remaining before digging deep to hold off a renewed challenge from that same rival, responding gamely to the urgings of Adrie de Vries.

A 4yo colt, he was winning for the second time, on his fifth outing having won a 1200m Abu Dhabi maiden for Ibrahim Aseel in February. Now in the care of Abubakar Daud, saddling his second career winner, he is actually unbeaten on turf and was a first ever winner for owner Hamad Ali Murshed Khamis Al Marar.