By Duane Fonseca
Khalifa Al Neyadi’s yard seems to be going from strength to strength with the Emirati schooler taking the plaudits at Sharjah Saturday afternoon.
Al Neyadi took his tally to seven with his double at Sharjah courtesy of apprentice Omani rider Saif Al Balushi and Brazilian Bernardo Pinheiro.
Al Balushi got the card underway winning the Longines Spirit Collection 1000m handicap sprint down the chute with AF Mozhell, who finished three fourths of a length ahead of Ernst Oertel’s AF Hajeej, the ride of another apprentice in Hugo Lebouc. Ahmed Al Mehairbi’s Algharbi took third a further length and a half back in the hands of Connor Beasley.
Pinheiro later doubled Al Neyadi’s tally when winning the Longines Pioneer Spirit 1700m handicap with AF Eshaar, who dominated the finish after being settled in the rear early on. It was a strong finish from AF Eshaar, who was ridden to the front 100m out and finished with two and three fourths of a length from stable companion Inthar ridden by Al Balushi. Helal Alalawi’s Al Hazeez with Pat Cosgrave up took third a further three fourths of a length to spare.
Abdallah’s Al Hammadi’s yard found success in the Longines Spirit Collection Chronometer 2000m maiden with Majdi, who was partnered by Szczepan Mazur in the saddle. A close neck back in second was Eric Lemartinel’s Taajer with Fabrice Veron up, while Al Hammadi’s Adrie de Vries ridden Whistle took third another length and a half behind.
Oertel claimed a 1-2 in the Longines Spirit Collection Trophy, a handicap over 1700m, where UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea managed to bring in favourite AF Athabeh a length and three fourths ahead of stable and teammate AF Tathoor with Gerald Avranche up. Finishing third, a further half length in arrears, was Al Mehairbi’s Harbh with Beasley up.
The feature event on the card, the PA Prestige GCC Cup presented by Longines was snapped up by Omani connections with Al Roba’A Al Khali winning for trainer Younes Al Kalbani and jockey Al Moatasem Al Balushi.
Raced in mid division for most of it, Al Roba’A Al Khali was unleashed just before the turn for home and flourished in the straight, going forward comfortably despite running down the centre of the track to win by a two and a quarter lengths from another overseas raider in Shareq Al Khalediah, trained by Saudi Arabia based conditioner Roberto Ocampo. A nose back in third were Harry Bentley and ES Nahawand for Mohammed Daggash. While it was Al Roba’A Al Khali’s fourth straight win, Al Kalbani claimed his first of the UAE season with his first dispatch.
The only Thoroughbred contest on the card was the Longines Spirit Collection Cup 1200m handicap which was won by the Antonio Fresu piloted Apolo Kid trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri. Placing a half length back in second was Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s Feriyal with Sandro Paiva up, while Ahmad bin Harmash’s Naaeebb was third by a short head in the hands of Fernando Jara.