Burj Khalifa, centre, running at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on January 19, 2014. Delores Johnson / The National
Burj Khalifa, centre, running at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on January 19, 2014. Delores Johnson / The National

Double delight for De Sousa at Al Ain racecourse

Al Ain // Former Godolphin jockey Silvestre De Sousa made it six victories from the 12 most recent races in the UAE by adding an Al Ain double on Saturday to his four at Jebel Ali on Friday.

The Brazilian jockey was fast out of the blocks, landing the opening 1,800 metres handicap aboard Nichem Al Mels for trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

A 2,000m handicap winner on the same course during his previous outing, De Sousa’s mount was in front only once – right on the line – to prevail in a photo finish.

The jockey said: “I thought I had won as we crossed the line, but it was a close call.

“The horse stays further, so I was keen to utilise his stamina but was struggling for room at a crucial stage.

“Luckily, it worked out well in the end.”

Conform With Fact, trained by De Sousa's main employer, Musabah Al Muhairi, completed the jockey's double in the final race, a 1,000m maiden, which was the only thoroughbred race on the card.

As opposed to his first winner, this was a comfortable success, and De Sousa said: “It has been a great two days both for me and the yard.

“This horse ran very well last time and we thought he would go very close.”

Royston Ffrench was another jockey celebrating a double, including victory in the official feature, a 2,000m conditions event, aboard Burj Khalifa for trainer Salem Al Ketbi.

It was a first success for the trainer since replacing Ernst Oertel at the Al Asayl stables. In one of two thrilling finishes on the card, Ffrench's mount had to dig deep to deny Haajeb, who refused to lie down once passed.

Ffrench said: “Connections hoped this switch to dirt would suit him and it has. It was hard work in the end, but full credit to the horse for really digging deep.”

The jockey completed his pair of victories by winning the feature race, having landed the preceding 1,600m handicap aboard Murooj, trained by his main employer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

Trainer Al Ketbi secured his own double when TM Junior Johnson and stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea scored a decisive victory in a 1,000m handicap.

It was a first win in the UAE for the horse, and O’Shea said: “He just loves dirt and has relished the switch to the surface here at Al Ain, having struggled on synthetic surfaces and turf since arriving from America.

“This win should boost his confidence, and hopefully he can win again now we have four dirt tracks in the UAE.”

Jockey David Smith had never ridden at Al Ain before and left with a 100 per cent strike rate, winning a 2,000m maiden on his only mount, Reeh, trained by Yousef Al Bloushi.

It was hard work. The pair looked in trouble with 800m to run, only to pick up well in the final 500m and pounce on Swwing 100m from home.

Swwing was partnered by Smith’s brother, Wayne.

The winning Smith said: “I thought we would get there when I saw Wayne’s horse tiring about 200m out.”


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