The Thoroughbreds took centre stage at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening, their sole race, a 1400m handicap being the most valuable on the card and it produced the best finish, Adventurous prevailing in a race the majority of the 13 runners were still in contention entering the final 350m.
As is almost always the case, the final race of six and only Thoroughbred contest on the evening, it appeared Shanaghai City, fifth at Meydan on Thursday, was going to make it three wins from his four most recent starts, leading from the outset under Jesus Rosales.
Entering the final 100m they were battling on grimly, finally headed by Sandro Paiva and Adventurous who then had to dig deep with Daffg and Mashaheer finishing fast, but just too late, to snatch second and third from a tiring Shanaghai City.
Owned by Ahmed Belqasem, the 8yo Invincible Spirit entire was opening his local account at the seventh attempt, doubling his career tally in the process. He was also adding to a treble his trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi celebrated at Meydan on Thursday.
Paiva said: “We went very close last time when I perhaps was perhaps too prominent on him so we agreed to ride him a bit more patiently tonight and, thankfully, it has worked out perfectly.
“It has been a very good weekend for myself and the whole team with the horses in great form.”
The Thoroughbreds took centre stage at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening, their sole race, a 1400m handicap being the most valuable on the card
As is almost always the case, the final race of six and only Thoroughbred contest on the evening,
The meeting kicked off with a 2200m handicap, arguably the best of the Purebred Arabian races on the card, in which a slow start proved no hindrance to Jawal Al Reef who ran out a relatively comfortable winner under Fernando Jara.
Unfazed by missing the break, Jara settled his mount in second last of the 14 runners until the pair made stealthy headway at the end of the back straight, closing on the leaders as the field turned for home.
Once in the short straight, they hit the front about 275m from home and never looked in danger afterwards, the 8yo entire repeating his course and distance victory of his previous start, a month ago.
A capacity field of 16 may have contested a 1600m handicap but at least half of them were never able to land a blow in a race that developed into a duel over the final 50m between old rivals Dassan Da and AF Seven Skies.
The former denied the latter, over course and distance a month ago but AF Seven Skies gained his revenge, leading in the final strides under Bernardo Pinherio.
For 4yo fillies foaled in the UAE, a 1200m maiden was won fairly comfortably by Almahroosa, soon in front under Fabrice Veron and, once ridden clear early in the straight, never in any real danger of defeat for Eric Lemartinel and Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Hahyan.
The equivalent race for colts and geldings was a virtual carbon copy only this time it was Tadhg O’Shea who was never headed, riding AF Sumoud who was making it third time lucky for the jockey’s main employer, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and the owner’s principal trainer, Ernst Oertel.
Connections were soon celebrating a course and distance double after the following 1200m handicap for horses in private ownership, albeit it in totally different fashion with O’Shea producing the hat-trick seeking AF Majalis to lead in the final strides.