Areem retains fastest miler throne at UAE National Day Cup

Nawwaar is surprise winner among thoroughbreds as trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid land 1-2 finish, reports Amith Passela.

Emirati jockey Ahmed Ajtebi was aboard Areem when they won the UAE National Day Cup race on Sunday in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Areem underlined his status as the best Purebred Arabian miler in the country by winning the National Day Cup for the second year in a row on Sunday night at the Capital’s racecourse.

Jockey Ahmed Ajtebi applied the familiar front-running tactic on the five-year-old son of Mahabb to clinch the first Group 1 prize of the season by more than two lengths over Wayne Smith on Sahib Du Clos.

Rabbah De Carrere, Areem’s stable companion, under the Godolphin jockey Silvestre De Sousa, was a further two lengths behind in third and Shayel Aldhabi, winner of the National Day Cup Prep three weeks ago, was a neck behind in fourth.

“He was the best horse, the highest rated, in the race,” Ajtebi, Godolphin’s Emirati jockey, said.

“He got a bit slow in the last 400m and that’s because it was his first race of the season.

“When I was going to the start, I felt he was a bit on the heavy side. That’s why I tried to get as far as I could from the rest of the field in the first half of the race to kill everybody. That was what helped us to win tonight.”

Majed Al Jahouri, the winning trainer, said he had given no riding instructions to Ajtebi.

“He knows the horse very well and didn’t think it was necessary to tell Ahmed how to ride the horse,” he said.

“I got a bit worried when I saw him getting a bit tired toward the end, but still he did the job well. I am sure he will run a better race next time.”

Al Jahouri cited the title defence of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 over 1,600m at Meydan on January 9 and the Liwa Oasis over 1,400m in Abu Dhabi on March 9 as his main objectives for the year.

“The mile distance is his maximum,” he said. “We have targeted only three races for this season. He has won the first and we have two more to go, and his job will be done for the season.”

Areem jumped out of gate No 8 to bowl along in front and turn a quality field into a procession. Smith made up some ground on Sahib Du Clos after turning for home, but was never going to catch the leader.

Rabbah De Carrere came with a late run to turn the tables on Ernst Oertel’s filly Shayel Aldhabi, dating back to when they clashed three weeks ago.

The President’s Cup on February 16, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on March 8 and the Kahayla Classic on March 29 will be his targets going forward.

“He will go better over the longer trip, Al Jahouri said of the four year old son of champion mare, Mizzna.

Nawwaar, under Royston Ffrench, sprang a surprise to win the Listed thoroughbred equivalent from his more illustrious stable companion and defending champion, Derbaas, for a one-two finish for trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.

Ffrench set a terrific pace on the colt. He opened up a five-length lead and stayed strong toward the end to hold off the late challenge of Derbaas under jockey Dane O’Neill to win by a length-and-a-quarter. Forjatt took third.

“The plan was to go in front, and riding for the Grandstand Stables, there is always a possibility to win whether it is the first, second or third string horse in the race. So it was my turn tonight,” Ffrench said.

It was Nawwaar’s first visit to Abu Dhabi and a winning one. Derbaas won the National Day Cup Prep three weeks ago and a repeat of last year’s feat was thwarted by his stable companion on the night.

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