By Duane Fonseca
Doug Watson stretched his lead in the UAE trainers championship to 10 victories for the season after Pat Dobbs won him the only Thoroughbred contest on Friday’s seven race Al Ain card when taking a swooping victory aboard Alda’Iya in the 1800m maiden.
The 3yo Afleet Alex gelding tracked early leader Luxor Temple and looked comfortable with Dobbs turning on the heat in the final 400m and Alda’Iya progressing to take up the running with 300m left. Once in front, Dobbs and Alda’Iya held on gamely to win by two lengths from Antimo, trained by Ahmed Al Shemaili and ridden by Antonio Fresu. Elvis, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and ridden by Sandro Paiva, finished third, a further six and a quarter lengths in arrears.
Racing got underway with the first of six Purebred Arabian contests on the card: the 1600m Wathba Stallions Cup (Pvt. Owners) where Helal Al Alawi’s Alazoum, ridden by Connor Beasley, headed longtime leader Hamdan Al Gharbia in the final 300m and ran on strongly to win by a length and three quarters with Mutaeb a further eight and a half lengths behind in third.
Beasley laid down the gauntlet and seems to be a potent threat to Tadhg O’Shea’s UAE Champion Jockey’s title defence as he claimed a second victory when riding Safin Al Reef to victory in the Al Muwaiji, a 2000m handicap. Raced in the rear, Safin Al Reef got back into the mix gradually and looked solid 300m from the finish nicking the race from the O’Shea-ridden AF Al Baher in the final strides. Khalifa Al Neyadi’s Inthar, with Bernardo Pinheiro in the saddle, was a head behind in third.
Safin Al Reef’s conditioner Abdalla Al Hammadi and owners Al Ajban Stables completed a quick double when Onward won the 1800m rated maiden that followed under Pat Cosgrave in similar fashion to his bannermate, settling in the rear and making smooth progress to win on the line. In second place, a head behind, was Ibrahim Al Hadhrami’s Pharitz Oubai with Szczepan Mazur in the saddle, while in third a further head behind was Onward’s teammate Optimizm, the ride of Fernando Jara.
Beasley’s double on the night had taken his tally up to 10, two clear of O’Shea and Fresu, but the Irishman reduced the deficit to one after clinching the 1600m maiden that had been slotted in as Race 5.
Beasley now leads the jockeys championship leaderboard by one having won 10 so far, while O’Shea in second has nine and Fresu in third has eight.
Riding Ernst Oertel’s AF Sayf, owned by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, O’Shea went to the front soon after the start and rode comfortably thereafter to take a two and a quarter length victory from Eric Lemartinel’s Arjan with Fabrice Veron aboard. A neck back in third was Sarab Al Gharbia under Noel Garbutt.
Trainer Irfan Ellahi and rider Royston Ffrench nicked the penultimate race of the night a 1400 handicap with JAP Yajoud, who was a length and a quarter ahead of Ahmed Al Mehairbi’s Somoud ridden by Richard Mullen. In third place a further four and a half lengths behind was the Al Hadhrami schooled Al Mobher.
The card ended with the Jebel Hafeet, a 1000m sprint, and was won by Khalifa Al Neyadi’s Jayide Al Boraq who had Pinheiro in the saddle. A length and quarter behind in second was Lemartinel’s Joori while Al Hadhrami’s SS Rabeh took third.