By Duane Fonseca
Jean de Roualle and Tadhg O’Shea combined to land the feature PA Group 1 HH The President Cup at Abu Dhabi Sunday evening with Rmmas turning in an almost last to first performance to win the major share of the staggering Dh2.5million prize on offer.
Owned by HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mansour Al Nahyan, the 7yo son of Mahabb had been the favourite to win ever since his success in the corresponding 2200m prep race on 19 January. Settled in the rear of the field under defending UAE Champion Jockey O’Shea, Rmmas started to make progress 500m out and took over from Ali Rashid Al Rayhi schooled Al Zahir, the ride of Jim Crowley, with 200m left to run. Once in front, Rmmas kept building upon his lead to go three fourths of a length clear at the finish.
In third place, a further three fourths of a length behind was Goshawke, trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi and ridden by Pat Cosgrave.
It was one of two wins on the night for O’Shea who had earlier won a 1200m PA handicap aboard Ernst Oertel’s Noof KB. South African conditioner Oertel himself signed off with a double following Antonio Fresu’s victory aboard AF Mekhbat in the 1400m PA handicap that brought the curtains down on the evening.
Had Al Rayhi and Crowley won with Al Zahir it would have been a perfect evening for the pair who had triumphed in the HH The President Cup, a Listed affair for Thoroughbreds over 1400m half an hour earlier. That event featured a 1-2-3 for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum as Crowley led home Taamol a length and quarter ahead of stablemate Yaalail with Dane O’Neill in the saddle. Following the pair home in third place, a further length and a quarter in arrears was Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Zainhom, the ride of Fresu.
Ahmed Al Mehairbi and Sam Hitchcott were the first to win on the six race card that got underway with the 1200m PA maiden, which was nicked by Shafaf.
Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and Szczepan Mazur were the other trainer-rider pair to make a trip to the podium after Ihtesham’s success in the first round of the Arabian Triple Crown over 1600m.