Abu Dhabi: A cracking card at Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening was highlighted by the 2,200m Group 1 Emirates Championship, which produced a thrilling finish with last year’s winner, BF Mughader, Rmmas and Somoud locked together in a real battle with 150m remaining before the latter snatched the spoils at the line.
Rmmas was second ahead of BF Mughader who weakened in the final stretch, but the victory went to Somoud, ridden by Pat Cosgrave trainer and Ahmed Al Mehairbi ninth winner of the season.
Cosgrave, riding the horse for the first time, said: “This is an improving horse who has been consistent all season.
“The connections told me to race quite handily and that he would fight for me when I asked him which is actually what happened. That was a good, brave, effort in what appeared a strong renewal of a prestigious prize. Hopefully I get to ride the horse again.”
The thoroughbred equivalent and biggest race in the capital, the 2,200m Abu Dhabi Championship, produced a virtual carbon copy finish with defending champion, GM Hopkins and Cosgrave duelling with Seniority over the final 100m, the pair having burnt off Hakeem shortly before.
As was the case in the Emirates Championship, Richard Mullen was the jockey denied by Cosgrave. In repeating their victory of 12 months ago, they secured their place in UAE folklore for trainer Jaber Ramadhan and owner Ramadhan Stable by becoming the first dual winner of a race inaugurated way back in 1993.
Ramadhan said: “The horse just loves it here at Abu Dhabi because he is happier going clockwise. Hopefully we can keep him sound and him back for this race again next year. Pat obviously gets on very well with him and I made sure he was available about a month ago. Happily he was.”
Cosgrave added: “This race has been good to me over the years and I have won it three times now. That is only the third time I have ridden this horse and first since winning this last year.”
The Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R3, over 2,400m and restricted to four-year-olds, attracted a field of nine, but only one ever really mattered with Basmah, one of two fillies in the race, sent straight to the front by Fabrice Veron and the pair stayed there to record a fairly comfortable success. Trained by Eric Lemartinel, the filly was doubling her career tally having shed her maiden tag a fortnight ago when Veron employed similar tactics in the 2,200m Arabian Triple Crown R2.
Veron always looked to have things under control and once he committed for home early in the short straight the race was soon in safekeeping.
Lemartinel said: “She is a nice filly who we knew would stay, so the plan was always to be positive on her and Fabrice has, again, given her a great ride. He has ridden her in all six starts, so knows the filly well and he always seemed happy throughout the race.”
Also restricted to four-year-olds, but over 2,200m, the UAE Arabian Derby, a Prestige contest, was won in fine style by Ihtesham, completing a double on the card for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and jockey Szczepan Mazur. One of two fillies among the 10 runners, she was settled in midfield before making stylish progress on the home turn and running on strongly in the straight to lead just over 150m from home.