Abu Dhabi: Paul Hanagan, the retained jockey of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, has made a great start to his first local season in the post and added to wins at Jebel Ali on Friday and Sharjah on Saturday by steering Aqmaar to victory in the featured 1,400-metre handicap at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening.
Settled off the pace, Hanagan’s mount made smooth progress 400m out and hit the front about 100m later, after which he never looked likely to be caught.
“He has done that nicely, although I probably hit the front a bit too soon,” said Hanagan. “It has been a good three days and it is nice to be back in the UAE for the season. I enjoyed my time here about eight years ago and I am really lucky to have such a top job.”
The only thoroughbred race was a 2,400m handicap and Royaaty made all the running under Xavier Ziani, who was able to utilise his low draw to get to the rail and the pair were never headed. Kicking clear turning for home, Royaaty ran on strongly to provide his trainer, Mubarak Bin Shafya, with his first winner of the season.
Ziani said: “I love this horse; I won on him at Meydan also. He can be a bit tricky but he enjoyed being out in front going at his own speed and we know he stays further, so I was always hopeful once we kicked clear turning for home.
“Well done to the whole team and I am delighted to have had a winner for them and the boss as a lot of work has gone into this horse.”
AF Sanadek made it five wins on the bounce, all at Abu Dhabi, when proving much too good for eight rivals in a 1,600m handicap. Trained by Eric Lemartinel, he won his final three starts last season before winning at the track’s first meeting of this campaign.
“That is the third time I have won on him,” said winning jockey Gerald Avranche. “He seems to still be improving and I was always confident today. He is a nice young horse.”
Champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea was in the saddle on Chick Flick, who ran out a comfortable winner in the opening 1,600m maiden. Trained by Ernst Oertel for His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, the four-year-old filly was never far off the pace, O’Shea said: “She has the speed for 1,200m and will stay further than this 1,600m. We were amazed when she was beaten here last time, so we put the cheekpieces on her but she still made me work hard.
“She has a lot of ability but is bone idle. Hopefully she will go on to bigger and better things.”
Nawfal Al Reef was the determined winner of the 2,200m conditions race, in which he led for most of the way under Richard Mullen. Trained by Jaber Bittar, the six-year-old won for the first time on his fourth career outing.
Mullen said: “He is certainly game and this step up in trip has really suited him.”
The racing concluded with a 1,600m handicap won by Antioco Murgia on Desert Rose for trainer Mohammad Ramadan.