Veron highlighted by feature
The final UAE race meeting of 2020 was at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, December 20, highlighted by the Listed 1600m Abu Dhabi Championship, restricted to 3-year-olds and won relatively comfortably by Mujeeb (Dahess x Nymphea Du Paon by Mahabb) under Fabrice Veron.
Having his third start for Eric Lemartinel and his main patron, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the homebred grey colt had made a winning debut here in the capital in early November, but was then well beaten on his only subsequent start in a conditions race over this 1600m course and distance. He bounced back in style, travelling strongly for Veron in midfield before the pair were able to sneak up the rail leaving the home turn and were soon in front in the short straight. Defeat thereafter never looked likely with Ottoman (Valiant Boy x Caviyar by Calin De Louve), finishing fast from the rear, getting closest, but without appearing likely to deny Veron’s mount.
Veron said: “He was very disappointing last time and I not know why because we know he is a good horse as he showed first time and again tonight. The 1600m is ideal for him at the moment, but he has the speed for shorter and should stay further, so is a nice horse to have in the yard.”
A capacity field of 12 contested the opening 2200m maiden in which Pat Cosgrave always looked happy aboard Zalman (Hilal Al Zaman x Zalcala by Volcano De Carrere), the pair hitting the front 200m out and always holding the late challenge of AF Ramz (AF Albahar x Sanha Du Paladin by Djouras Tu) who chased him home just ahead of Will Power who flew home in the final 300m to claim third. Having his tenth career start, the 4-year-old colt had finished second over the same course and distance when chasing home, the very useful Ihtesham in the UAE Arabian Derby in March.
Saddled by Helal Alalawi for Abu Dhabi Racing, this was his second start of the current campaign and Cosgrave said: “He had the form in the book to suggest he was entitled to win that and he did it nicely enough.”
The owners were celebrating a quick double just 30 minutes later, this time combining with Mohamed Daggash who saddled Hisham Al Khalediah II (Laith Al Khalediah x Enssaf by Alhamal) who was probably never headed under Fernando Jara in a 1600m maiden. It was a sixth winner of the season for the trainer, enjoying his best ever campaign and eighth in total. A 6-year-old entire, he was making it third time lucky having raced just twice last season, for Alalawi, finishing well beaten both times over 2200m then 2000m. This seasonal debut was his first outing since the end of February.
Jara said: “I did not know a lot about the horse, but we broke well and I soon found myself in front. He has enjoyed bowling long in front and has run on strongly in the straight, so it was a decent effort.”
Adrie de Vries then adopted identical tactics in the following 1600m handicap, making every post a winning one aboard Qader (Munjiz x Fazzaha by Dahman El Arami) for Jean de Roualle and Yas Racing. Another making a successful return to action, having not been seen in public since early February, the 8-year-old homebred was registering a fifth career victory, all over this course and distance.
De Roualle said: “That is the way this horse likes to race and to be ridden. I was a bit worried he was out of form at the end of last season, but we have freshened him up and he has shown a great attitude to win his fifth race.”
De Vries added: “I was always pretty happy and he enjoys being out in front dictating matters. That is actually my third win on him.”
In the Wathba Stallions Cup for Private Owners Only, a 1600m handicap produced a gutsy performance from AF Majalis (AF Albahar x Khute by Djouras Tu), another to make virtually all the running, this time with Tadhg O’Shea successfully utilising the positive tactics. Riding in the silks of his main employer, UAE Champion Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, O’Shea was hard at work on the homebred 4-year-old early in the straight, but found a very willing partner who answered his every call to make it consecutive course victories having landed a 1200m maiden here in the capital five weeks ago.
O’Shea said: “That was very pleasing because it was my last ride for both the owner and trainer in 2020, so it is the perfect way to sign off for them. He has had to dig deep there for me because AF Alareeq was trying his best to get past, but my fellow was determined not to let him.”
Source and photos: Emirates Racing Authority
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