Sometimes winning is easy, sometimes it’s not. Either way, it’s a great feeling for a horse’s jockey, even if it means beating your weighing-room buddy. Not only does it give you bragging rights it reinforces your ability and boosts confidence all around. Here we look at five of the most convincing and dominant wins of the past week’s racing action in the UAE, at Jebel Ali Racecourse and Sharjah Equestrian Club.
Island Rule broke well in the Commemoration Day Cup and, although it was his first-ever career start, the son of No Nay Never looked comfortable on the track right from the go. Ray Dawson nursed the debutant, who tracked the leaders early before making his move inside the final two furlongs. Once Island Rule was asked for his effort, the response was immediate and he put the race to bed like a professional, crossing the line 5.25 lengths clear. It was a very impressive performance and marks him out as a nice horse for the future.
Ahmad Bin Harmash, who trains out of the Al Aasfa Racing Stables, unleashed another exciting runner in King Leo, who led all the way to land the Al Shafar Conditions sprint. Making his second start of the season, the three-year-old King Leo, who was formerly trained in the UK by John Gosden for Dubai businessman Sultan Ali, assumed control of the race and found a nice rhythm for Dawson before asserting himself to cross the line 5.25 lengths clear of the chasing pack. King Leo also won his first UAE start in convincing fashion and looks certain to challenge for bigger prizes over the course of the season, perhaps at the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
It may have taken Lady Snazz a while to find her rhythm, but it was worth the wait. The daughter of former Dubai World Cup winner Curlin had ability to dominate a strong field and streak home a 4.5-length winner of the 1,950m Handicap at Jebel Ali. The five-year-old mare, who won her maiden at Meydan back in 2020, made smooth progress under champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea to lead inside the final two. As soon as O’Shea shook off the bridle, the result was never in doubt and it was only a question of how big the winning margin would be. Another nice winner for the Zabeel Stables and a horse that they are going to have a lot of fun with.
Arabian specialist and former champion trainer Ernst Oertel regularly keeps producing some exciting types and AF Yakhtem certainly looks a very promising horse given the manner of his victory in the DolceVita at Sharjah Equestrian Club on Saturday. Another nice horse bred by champion breeder Khalid Al Naboodah, AF Yakhtem deliver a strong performance under O’Shea to upstage his rivals and win the 1,200m sprint by 6.25 lengths. It was only the third start for the four-year-old son of AF Al Buraq and makes him out as a nice sprinter.
AF Al Maher
After some well-contested races, highlighted by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup and won by the Doug Watson-trained Far Sky, AF Al Maher and Dutch ace Adrie de Vries delivered a big effort to win the concluding Saint-Imier handicap over 1,700m. There was a lot to like about the winner’s attitude. After patiently tracking the leader, Af Sayf, De Vries asked his mount to assert himself approaching the final two furlongs and he responded well to come home an easy six-length winner.