AF Alwajel lands feature as Somoud claims The President Cup Prep - GulfToday

AF Alwajel lands feature as Somoud claims The President Cup Prep

Horse Racing

Tadhg O’Shea rides Ernst Oertel-trained AF Alwajel towards the finish line to win the Group 3 Al Ruwais race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Seven races at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening were highlighted by the 1200m Group 3 Al Ruwais and a penalty was not enough to stop the class act in the race, AF Alwajel, from running out a decisive winner.

Trained by Ernst Oertel for his main patron Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the homebred 6-year-old, penalised for his success in the 1600m Group 3 National Day Cup on his penultimate start and previous visit to the capital, had finished third in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1, also over 1600m, but on the dirt at Meydan, in between these Abu Dhabi victories.

Runner-up in this last year, he followed that by winning the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas, so has now won each of his three most recent visits to the capital’s turf track. However, he appears unlikely to try and defend that crown this year.

A 2200m conditions contest, The President Cup Prep, over the same course and distance as the Group One feature itself, was contested at a pedestrian pace until the race finally developed at the top of the short straight.

It was here that early leader and local debutant Jugurtha De Monlau set sail for home under Ryan Curatolo, immediately hassled by Darius Du Paon. In behind, top weight, Somoud, conceding weight to his eight rivals, had cruised into contention under Richard Mullen and the race looked over when they grabbed the initiative just inside the final 200m.

However, Tadhg O’Shea aboard fellow Group One winner BF Mughader had tracked Mullen through and they finished fast and late, failing by a quickly diminishing short-head. The third Group One winner among the nonet, was also finishing with purpose and snatched fourth, behind Jugurtha De Monlau, from Darius Du Paon in fifth.

Now in the care of Jean de Roualle, Yas Racing’s homebred 5-year-old Somoud actually won the Group 1 Emirates Championship, also over this 2200m, last March. On his debut for De Roualle he won the Jewel Crown prep, again over course and distance, but could not land a blow in the main event.

Owner and trainer were soon celebrating a rapid double, this time combining with Curatolo who was aboard Harrab, smooth winner of the following 1600m handicap. This was a third career success for the homebred 7-year-old entire, all since joining De Roualle and each one on the Abu Dhabi turf. He also won for Curatolo, over 1400m, on his previous start five weeks ago and was winning for a second time over the track and trip.

A 1600m Prestige affair for horses born in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup attracted a select field of just six, but in reality, from the moment Adrie de Vries sent Hameem to the front 400m out only one horse mattered.

The only 4-year-old in the race, he was receiving weight from his five older rivals and is now unbeaten after four starts. The least experienced runner he, as was half the field, was saddled by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, the same connections who won this in 2018 with Al Tiryaq, a 4-year-old then, but well beaten in sixth this time.

After landing a 1600m dirt maiden at Al Ain on debut under Jose Santiago, he has since been partnered exclusively by De Vries at Abu Dhabi, winning a conditions race over this course and distance before dropping to 1400m to land the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, another Prestige contest.

That was in the middle of December, five weeks ago, and this was the first time he had clashed with his elders since that successful Al Ain debut.

The action was underway with a 1000m maiden for horses foaled locally and jockey Fabrice Veron continued his recent good form with a smooth victory aboard Mumayaza, saddled by his French compatriot Eric Lemartinel and a first winner to carry the silks of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan. It was just a seventh runner for the owner, all this season. This 4-year-old filly was second on her debut, over 1200m here in the capital, a fortnight ago and, having tracked early leader Alfath, went to the front easily and was never in danger thereafter.

For horses in private ownership, a 2200m handicap was turned into something resembling a procession by Pat Cosgrave and Sharkh, a tenth winner of the campaign for Helal Alalawi. Settled in midfield, Cosgrave crept his mount closer on the home turn before the pair hit the front 300m out and stormed clear.

Related articles