The respected trio Al Nabooda, O’Shea and Oertel wins in Abu Dhabi

AF Majalis ridden by Tadhg O'Shea

The second meeting of the new season to be staged in the capital, at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, on November 15, kicked off with a 1200m maiden and the always respected trio of Champion Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, his retained jockey, champion Tadhg O’Shea and main trainer, Ernst Oertel, landed the spoils courtesy of AF Majalis (AF Albahar x Khute by Djouras TU), opening his account at the fourth attempt on his seasonal debut.

Having just his fourth career start, after three efforts, all at Abu Dhabi, last season, the homebred 4-year-old colt was either first or second throughout before grabbing the initiative early in the straight and staying on strongly to post an easy victory.

Oertel said: “He is a very nice horse and I must admit coming here we were very hopeful he could win today and he certainly has not disappointed us.”

O’Shea added: “All credit to the trainer who convinced me to stay loyal to this one over AF Mohanak who finished third. This horse has certainly improved from last season, mentally and physically. He has plenty of speed and it all worked out well.”

Sawt Assalam ridden by Szczepan Mazur

For 3-year-old colts and geldings foaled in the UAE, a 1400m maiden went to debutant Sawt Assalam (Mahabb x Prime D'Or by Dormane), a homebred confidently ridden by Szczepan Mazur for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami. Sporting the silks of Ben Shahwan Arabian Stables, the colt was sent straight to the head of affairs by Mazur and, apart from a brief challenge by O’Shea and eventual runner-up AF Al Ahkaf, never appeared in any danger.

Mazur said: “This is a nice horse and he has done that very well. Obviously it was only his debut, so you would like to think, he is going to improve from that.”

Foah ridden by Fabrice Veron

An identical race, but for fillies appeared pretty mundane on paper, while actually producing a great finish with long-time leader AF Kharissa overhauled about 30m from home by Rawat Al Reef who was then, as the winning post approached, denied by Foah (Nieshan x Richly Blessed by TH Richie), the three debutantes serving up a thrilling spectacle. Trained by Eric Lemartinel for Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan, the homebred filly was settled in midfield early on before making relentless progress in the straight and then delivered with a perfectly timed challenge by Fabrice Veron.

Veron said: “I had to push her quite early on because she was quite green and, basically, a baby, so she will certainly progress from that. At home, she has been galloping nicely in the mornings, so I actually thought she would be more educated which offers hope for the future.”

RB Dixie Honor ridden by Antonio Fresu

Italian jockey Antonio Fresu endured a frustrating start to the season, forced to miss the first fortnight having tested positive for Covid-19, but has soon been back in the winning groove, following a Friday Jebel Ali winner with another success, this time aboard RB Dixie Honor (Majd Al Arab x RB Dixie Diva by Burning Sand) in a 1600m handicap.

Fresu raced in second until entering the relatively short Abu Dhabi straight at which point he sent his mount, a 5-year-old mare, for home in what proved a race winning move. Saddled in Al Ain by Helal Al Alawi, it was actually a maiden victory for the mare, raced by National Stables, the base from which Al Alawi trains. It was a win at the eighth attempt for the mare and fifth for a horse carrying the owner’s silks.

Al Alawi said: “Her best previous run was here at Abu Dhabi when 2200m probably proved too far. She had a lovely low weight today and, luckily, has taken full advantage.”

Source and photos: Emirates Racing Authority

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