Abu Dhabi: Al Tiryaq registered a thrilling win in the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club Gold Cup, one of three Prestige races over 1,600m on the card at the capital course on Sunday.
Only five may have gone to post, but they were all in contention with 250 metres to go with last year’s winner, Hamza, trying valiantly to hold on along the rail. AF Sanad had thrown down the first challenge early in the straight, soon followed by AF Yatroq and it was that pair Hamza saw off first.
However, at about the same time, AF AL Hazer and Al Tiryaq made their moves, with the former, on his first start since Dubai World Cup night in the Kahayla Classic, briefly looking the main danger.
Inside the final 100m, he faltered and dropped to third, but Sam Hitchcott and Al Tiryaq quickened in the final stages to win at the line.
It was a fourth win this season for the five-year-old, trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables.
“He is a smashing little horse and very versatile, said Hitchcott. “He won over 1,400m in November and 2,200m two weeks ago. He has a turn of foot which is a great asset in these races, as well as a desire to win, which makes my job easier. It is a big result for the trainer, his team and everybody involved with the horse.”
The other Prestige races were also over 1,600m — the Emirates Colts Classic and Emirates Fillies Classic, restricted to four-year-olds — and were the main support races on the card. Omani raider Ghazayel has now raced in Abu Dhabi twice and is a dual Classic winner, after adding the Emirates Fillies Classic to the 1,400m Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic she won on her turf debut in December.
Also a winner three times in Muscat, racing on dirt and over trips ranging from 1,200m to 1,800m, she is clearly both versatile and talented.
For trainer Younis Al Kalbani, it is two UAE winners from as many starters and for apprentice jockey, Saif Al Balushi, a fourth and fifth this season. Settled on the rail, in midfield, Ghazayel was switched around rivals 700m out before easing into the lead entering the relatively short straight. It was soon apparent the race was won and she came home unextended.
The jockey, who rode the winner for his cousin, Shaikh Mohammad Shibab Hamed Al Balushi, said: “She is a very smart filly and showed in December she handles turf as well as she does the dirt at home. I was always happy and she has won very nicely in what is another great win for Oman.”
Thirty minutes later, the Emirates Colts Classic — with a field of eight — was run at a very modest tempo before heating up 600m out, by which time four of the octet were out of contention. MH Rahal, winner of the 1,400m Abu Dhabi Classic for Elise Jeanne, tried to make all under Connor Beasley and saw off challenges from first Mushairib and then AF Motaghatres.
However, it was his stable companion, AF Al Bairaq, who threw down the gauntlet 200m out and Beasley’s mount, try as he might, was unable to withstand his final burst. Trained by Ernst Oertel for champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the winner was losing his maiden tag at the fifth attempt and gaining revenge on the other pair, having been third to MH Rahal and AF Motaghatres in the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic and then second to his stable companion in a 1,400m maiden, on his penultimate start, in December.