Dubai: It was an evening of festive cheer as the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club hosted the final meeting of 2020-2021 UAE racing season with the highlight being the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship, a 1,600m event for three-year-old Arabians.
With a maximum field of 14 lining up to face the starter, it was expected to be a well-contested event and it did not disappoint.
Particularly for French ace Fabrice Veron who rode a well-judged race aboard the Eric Lemartinel-trained Mujeeb to see off Ottoman and Connor Beasley with Al Mansour and eight-time champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea laying down a late challenge for third.
Only a neck back in fourth place of what was a memorable renewal to the Championship was Pat Dobbs and Dergham.
Mujeeb was representing the Al Asayl team of The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The winner of a 1,400m contest at Abu Dhabi on debut on November 8, the son of Dahees was perhaps a trifle disappointing when finishing a well beaten fifth, behind Ottoman, Shoja’A Muscat and Al Mansour NF in his second start two weeks ago.
However, he bounced back to his best form to post a very promising win. “I was confident, but he’s not always the same horse that he is in the morning,” Veron told ADEC. “Last time, I don’t know what happened and why he ran like that. But he’s a good horse. I was always travel easy in the race today and when I asked him for his effort he gave me everything.
“He’s not done yet and I then he can still improve further. The distance is also not too much of a worry for him. I think he will be back in January, or perhaps February, but we’ll have to wait and see what his trainer wants. But today was very nice.”
The final also including two thoroughbred races and a leg of the popular Wathba Stallions Cup For Private Owners Only which was won the favourite, Af Majalis.
The crack team of Tadhg O’Shea, trainer Ernst Oertel and breeder-owner Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodha team up to land the spoils in an absolute thriller.
O’Shea, who made most of the running aboard Af Majalis, needed to dig deep to peg back Af Alareeq and Connor Beasley with Af Makerah and Gerald Avaranche running on strongly for third.
“We ended the year on a winning note so let’s hope we can start 2021 the same way that we finished,” said O’Shea.
Earlier, Scandinavian ace Adrie de Vries teamed up with the Jean de Roualle-trained Qader to win the Abu Dhabi Sports Council Handicap over a mile.
The Dutchman was full of praise for horse and trainer and said: “It was his first run after a long time and Jean told me that he had some problems which took a long time to sort out. Jean did a great job getting him fit because he’s a big horse. He’s a lovely horse, he likes the grass, he likes Abu Dhabi and he likes to dictate. Once again a great training job by Jean.”
Veron completed a meet double when he rode Shanghai City to victory in the first of two thoroughbred handicaps, the Al Mushrif over a mile.