Jawaal shows his class at the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup
Racing at Sharjah Longines Racecourse on Saturday afternoon, December 12, was highlighted by the first renewal of HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Cup, a 1700m prestige handicap and class prevailed with dirt debutant Jawaal (Mahabb x Gabra by Dormane) able to concede weight to all 13 rivals to post a snug success.
Saddled by Majed Al Jahoori for Al Wathba Racing, the homebred colt, part of a quartet of 4-year-olds clashing with their elders, made smooth progress from midfield to lead inside the final 400m, running on strongly under Fernando Jara and always seemingly holding the late challenge of AF Taghzel (AF Al Buraq x Voici Kossack by Bengali D’Albert).
One of four Purebred Arabian races on the card restricted to horses foaled in the UAE, it was won last year by AF Alwajel (AF Al Buraq x Samira De Carrere by Djouras Tu), recent winner of this year’s Group 3 National Day Cup. On just his seventh start, Jara’s mount was doubling his career tally, having previously won February’s 1600m Emirates Colts Classic, on the Abu Dhabi turf. Well beaten on his seasonal return, eight days ago in a 1400m Abu Dhabi handicap having led early on before weakening; he seemed to relish the conditions on his first start away from the capital’s turf.
Jara said: “I rode him last week and he showed plenty of early dash which he has replicated here to win what appeared a strong race nicely. Connections will have more options with him now as he is clearly versatile with regards to distance, surface and tactics.”
The opening 1200m handicap, also limited to horses foaled locally, looked particularly competitive on paper, but proved a fairly straightforward task for AF Senad (AF Al Buraq x Fleur Du Cayrou by Dormane) under apprentice Nathan Crosse who, after a course double at the previous meeting, was taking his record to three wins from just four Sharjah mounts.
It was also a memorable occasion for rookie trainer Kareem Ramadan, saddling his very first winner with just his tenth runner from his Al Ain Racecourse base. Owner Saleh Omar Ali bin Haidar was able to celebrate his first victory of the new campaign. In ten previous career outings, AF Senad had one runner-up and two third placings to his name, but lost his maiden tag in style, hitting the front 300m from home and soon going clear.
Ramadan said: “Obviously I am delighted to get that first winner. This horse was third over this course and distance last year, so we hoped conditions would suit him on just his second start for me.”
For 3-year-olds only, but again for horses foaled in the UAE, the 1000m maiden produced a thrilling finish with debutant ES Rubban (Azzam Al Zobair x Jolie Du Cassou by Baco Du Cassou) trying grimly to cling on to the lead he had established passing the 300m pole only to be denied in the very final stride by Ashjaan (Al Nasr x Maharani by Darike). The filly was making it third time lucky, her head in front only where it mattered under Fabrice Veron, riding for Eric Lemartinel and the trainer’s main patron, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Connections would feel it was a deserved success as the filly had finished second on both previous starts, over 1000m then 1200m, also at Sharjah.
Veron said: “I have twice finished third on this filly, so it is nice she has managed to get her head in front. She took me there strongly, but credit to the runner-up who really put up a good fight. When we crossed the line I was hopeful we had won, but it is always nice when the judge confirms the result.”
The fourth contest for those born locally, a 1700m handicap, was turned into a procession by JAP Al Yaasoob (Madour x Nazwah by Dormane), a welcome belated first winner of the season for trainer Irfan Ellahi whose string returned to action this weekend having not been seen in public since early November.
Settled just behind the speed by Szczepan Mazur, sporting the predominantly green silks of Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the homebred 6-year-old entire grabbed the initiative leaving the home turn before pulling clear in the short straight. After 18 previous efforts, his sole previous victory was registered over this course and distance in early November 2019.
Ellahi said: “Sharjah has been a lucky course for us over the years and most of our horses seem to thrive here. It is great for the whole team to get the season rolling.”
A capacity field of 16 may have gone to post for a 1700m maiden, but from a long way out only two mattered, AF Ramz (AF Albahar x Sanha Du Paladin by Djouras) leading with 500m to go under an industrious Tadhg O’Shea. They were stalked by a motionless Connor Beasley aboard Amirah (Al Saoudi x Aria Vege by Kesberoy) and, once the jockey asked his mount for maximum effort, the pair dashed clear to post a clear cut success for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
In doing so, the 5-year-old mare not only lost her own maiden tag at the fifth attempt, but also that of her owner, Mohd Jasim Mohd Al Mahmoud whose silks have only been carried, thus far, by this winner. This was actually her first start for Al Rayhi, having raced thrice last season and returned to action six weeks ago for Doug Watson.
Beasley said: “That was quite impressive because I was always going very well and then, when I asked her, she picked up nicely before running all the way to the line.”
Source and photos: Emirates Racing Authority
Welcome to Arabian Horse Intl Endurance / Flat Racing!
We hope you enjoy it and have a Good Reading!