The second day of the fifth edition of FBMA International Show Jumping Cup 2018 started with a win in the first category for UAE competitor Hamad Ali Al Kirbi.
He rode Grande Cherie PJ to victory, while there was also a win for Abdulrahman Ahmed Ameen in the second category who rode Carolien D.
The first of two CSIY categories saw a total of 47 riders compete. This year has seen the highest number of international participants from 25 countries compete. A total of 147 riders and 180 horses have gathered at the impressive Al Forsan complex in Abu Dhabi.
From the first category Al Kirbi’s winning times were 34.60 for round one and 23.00 for round two and from the second category, Ameen’s times were 37.02 for round one and 22.16 for round two.
Second place in the first category went to Farhang Sadeghi from Iran on Manon Lescaut with a time of 33.73 for round one and 23.10 for round two.
Third place was awarded to Joao Maria Marquilhas from Portugal riding Franciscus Sylt E with a time of 36.42 for round one and 23.31 for round two.
In the second category, second place went to Imad Gharib from Syria riding Quattro 3 with winning times of 35.77 for round one and 22.88 for round two. Third place went to the UAE’s Humaid Abdulla Al Mheiri on Caravelli with times of 39.90 for round one and 25.53 for round two.
The third category-CSICh-A- for children aged 15 and under was won by Omar Ayman from Palestine, riding Stella 514, with winning times of 65.99 for round one and 38.59 for round two.
Second place went to Eisa Omran Al Owais from the UAE with Avelon and winning times of 64.10 for round one and 38.69 for round two. Third place went to Emirati rider Saif Awaida Mohammed Al Kirbi riding Al Mazyouna with winning times of 66.89 for round one and 29.60 for round two.
The tournament is held annually under the patronage of HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, Chairwoman of the UAE General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.
The Cup displays world-class, home-grown Emirati equestrian talent, a sport which is deep-rooted in the nation’s culture. A total of 58 of the UAE’s most talented show-jumpers will participate in the three day event.
Alongside the competition, the Equestrian Village is home to the family-centred activity zone which is free for guests. It includes games and competitions for children as well pony riding, competitive, fun races, face painting and horse-shoe throwing.
In addition, over the weekend, attendees can enjoy fabulous music and delicious food from some of the best food trucks in the capital.
The Cup is organised by FBMA with platinum sponsors, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), Abu Dhabi Media (ADM), and Longines.
Gold sponsors are Al-Shira’aa Stables, Al Forsan, Telecom partner Etisalat, Strategic partners UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation (UAEERF) and Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) and supporting partners Healthpoint and Etihad Airways.
“Etisalat’s participation in this prestigious sports event falls within our ongoing strategy to support community initiatives, especially the ones targeted at Emirati women. We are committed to providing Emirati women with support on all levels related to health and wellbeing,” said HE Sultan Al Dhaheri, acting general manager of Etisalat Abu Dhabi.
Multiple Group One winner Vazirabad graces Meydan on Thursday when he runs in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy.
Alain de Royer-Dupre’s six-year-old was beaten in the Group Three last year before going on to win the Dubai Gold Cup a few weeks later.
Connections are using the race as a stepping stone towards that target again, with a trip to Royal Ascot on the cards later in the year.
The Aga Khan’s Racing manager Georges Rimaud said: “He’s well. This is his seasonal debut so we’ll just have to see how he behaves and how he does, and then we’ll decide whether he runs in the Gold Cup afterwards.
“The trip might be a little short but it’s more a question of getting him ready for the important day so I wouldn’t be too worried about the trip.
“If he wins, all is well, if he doesn’t it doesn’t mean he’s not going to run (in the Dubai Gold Cup), either. It’s always a preparation race so anything can happen.
“Last year he was going to run at Ascot but injured himself, he would have gone otherwise.
“I think he’s a hardy enough horse that he can handle good ground but if it’s too fast we would have to think about it. Ascot will certainly be part of the discussion.
“We have to see how this goes and then we’ll go from there.”
Vazirabad is one of 11 runners, with Charlie Fellowes’ Prince Of Arran, the Charlie Appleby-trained Rare Rhythm and David Simcock’s Meydan regular Sheikhzayedroad also involved.
Saturday’s sixth and final meeting of the Sharjah season featured their biggest race of the campaign, HH The Ruler Of Sharjah Trophy, a 1700m Prestige race and surely one of the most dramatic contests ever staged at the track.
ES Ajeeb, who had been very reluctant to load, was soon out in front under Sam Hitchcott and from a long way out clearly had the beating of his ten rivals.
However exiting the home turn, probably a dozen lengths clear, he refused to enter the straight, instead almost turning right and going the wrong way.
Unfortunately the jockey Sam Hitchcott was unseated, giving him no chance of maintaining the partnership.
MH Rahal was left in front, challenged by AF Maher, who under Antonio Fresu then proceeded to drift very wide at the top of the straight.
Once straightened out he ran on well, whereas MH Rahal appeared to be stopping under Connor Beasley.
In the end Fresu’s mount completing a double for Ernst Oertel and Champion Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.
The horse has now won all three of his outings on dirt and was winning for the fourth time this season.
Fresu said: “I thought I might finish second because the leader was well clear but suddenly veered off leaving us with a good chance.
“My horse has then drifted off the inside rail and headed for the outside one, but in fairness responded well in the final 200m once I corrected him.”
The winning jockey added: “It is obviously nice to win the biggest race of the Sharjah campaign and I thank connections for the opportunities they have afforded me this season.”
The opening 1200m maiden attracted the maximum field of 16 but from the outset only three of the runners ever looked a likely winner.
Antonio Fresu was soon in front aboard AF Shuzza, tracked by his stable companion AF Amjad along with Aasif Al Rawasi, originally the first reserve.
Just after halfway Fresu’s mount weakened quickly at which point Tadhg O’Shea drove debutant AF Amjad to lead and they never looked in any danger, despite Aasif Al Rawasi plugging on gamely for Connor Beasley.
Trained by Oertel the winner, like AF Maher, was also bred by Al Nabooda and O’Shea said: “I have enjoyed a lot of success over many years in these colours, as well as for Ernst, and you always know when riding one for them you have a chance.”
O’Shea added: “It was a good winning debut and the horse is only going to improve for the experience.”
The final race, the Sharjah Marathon, a 2700m handicap lacked the drama of the feature much to the relief of Hitchcott who led for the final circuit aboard The Secret.
Trained by Doug Watson for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the eight-year-old could safely be described as a course specialist; all six career wins have been registered here and he was winning this race for the third consecutive year.
These have been his only victories since December 2015 when he completed a rapid course hat-trick.
Watson said: “He just loves it at Sharjah where everything obviously suits him and Sam has given him a very good ride this afternoon.
“Obviously, given his course record and, particularly, in this race, we had to be quite hopeful and he has delivered again.”
The Secret has actually now won the Sharjah Marathon under three different jockeys with Paul Hanagan aboard in 2016 and Jim Crowley doing the steering last year.
The only Thoroughbred contest, a 1200m handicap, produced a trip down memory lane for local race enthusiasts with Brett Doyle a dual UAE Champion Jockey just over 20 years ago, riding his first winner of the season for his old employer Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
A two-time UAE champion Doyle is currently here as a work rider for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, but also rides occasionally.
He finished second for Godolphin at Meydan on Thursday aboard Eynhallow, his only Dubai World Cup Carnival appearance this year.
Doyle produced some of his old magic when riding Hidden Journey for Gopi Selvaratnam.
He was never far off the pace, initially set by Richard Mullen aboard Al Boraq.
They were headed by Pat Dobbs on Dangerous Thought who looked the likely winner until Doyle mustered a final challenge from Hidden Journey who was losing his maiden tag at the eighth attempt and sixth locally.
Doyle said: “It is brilliant to ride a winner for Sheikh Ahmed having enjoyed so much success for him in the past.”
“My time at Jebel Ali, riding for Gopi’s brother, Dhruba, was a real springboard for me and an opportunity I have always been very grateful for.”
Doyle then looked set to complete a rapid double when going clear on JAP Yajoud in the 1700m handicap but his mount tired in the final 100m and was caught, close home, by ES Kwashi, a first winner of the season for his ever enthusiastic trainer, Mohd Ramadan.
For jockey Bernardo Pinheiro, it was a second UAE victory in his first local season, while the horse was winning for a third time, having completed an Al Ain double in early 2016, highlighted by the Al Ain Derby.
Ramadan said: “This horse won the big race for us at Al Ain a couple of years ago and was then just denied here in the Ruler’s Trophy so I am delighted to see him win again. Hopefully now he has put his head back in front he can do so again, perhaps back at Al Ain where I train.”
With a full field of 16 facing the starter, the 1200m handicap looked competitive on paper, but in reality proved fairly straightforward for Malab who was soon at the head of affairs under Connor Beasley.
Plenty tried to go with her, but the 5-year-old mare had all her rivals in trouble entering the final 400m and ran on strongly to provide trainer Elise Jeanne a fifth winner this season.
Malab was recording her second victory of both the current campaign and her career having also landed a maiden over the same course and distance in December.
Jeanne said: “She is a lovely mare, so tough and genuine. She has run well at Al Ain in the past but does seem to save her best for here at Sharjah. I am delighted she has won again for her owner and breeder Khalid Saleh Ahmed Nasser Al Malahi.”