Hanagan wastes little time settling into UAE racing

Jockey wins in just his second night of work in Emirates

Udabaa and Paul Hanagan, left, pull away from the field in the 2,400-metre thoroughbred race Sunday at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Ravindranath K / The National
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ABU DHABI // After failing to win from six rides at Jebel Ali on Friday on his first day at work in the Emirates this season, Paul Hanagan got off the mark in his only start on Sunday night at the capital’s racecourse.

The two-time British champion jockey rode the Doug Watson-trained Udabaa to a superb victory in the silks of his principal patron, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, in the solitary thoroughbred handicap of the six-race card meeting.

Hanagan had the six-year-old gelded son of Alhaarth in the lead after racing behind stable companion Mantoba until the field swept on to the home stretch of the 2,400-metre trip.

He had to hold off the challenges of Tanfeeth, ridden by Dane O’Neill, and Amaan under apprentice Noel Garbutt to lead a sweep of the first three places for owner Sheikh Hamdan – under three different trainers.

“It’s nice to have one on the board in only my second day at work in the UAE,” Hanagan said.

“He went nice and steady earlier on and it was a good position to be for most of the trip. And when I gave him a crack of the whip, he moved up a gear and stayed on strongly to win pretty well.”

Udabaa was on the winning side for the second time in three weeks at the capital track, and Watson was already planning to bring him back for a similar race in three weeks.

“He won at Meydan in the all-weather last season and this season he seems be going well,” the American said.

“He is rated 87, and with this win he may move up to the low 90’s for the next race. The way he is progressing over these kinds of trips, he might be able to keep this kind of form and maybe win again.”

Meanwhile, the smiles were back on the faces of the UAE champion trainer-and-jockey combination Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea.

The leading duo, after drawing a blank for the first time in four meetings at the capital racecourse last week, were back in the winner’s enclosure, though it took four races.

O’Shea, aboard Nemrah, won from stable companion Richly Blessed, ridden by Sam Hitchcock, in the handicap rated 0-70 for fillies and mares.

The win took O’Shea’s tally to 18, four more than Wayne Smith, who is facing a lengthy absence after breaking a collarbone at the Jebel Ali meeting last Friday.

“I was a bit disappointed when some of the horses expected to win didn’t run true to their potential, but then you can’t win all the time in horse racing,” Oertel said.

“The important thing is that we are back on the board and that’s some relief. [Nemrah] is a good filly and winning her second race in two starts. Even the second horse ran a good race.”

The win took the South African’s tally to 15 wins, two more than his closest challenger, Musabah Al Muhairi.

The Emirati trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi and Jordanian Jameel Salman saddled their first winners of the season, with Safir Bainuna under Harry Bentley winning the Al Wathba Stud Farm Cup for private owners and stables and Xavier Ziani aboard Girl Powerr taking the opener.

Ameer Al Reef won under Jesus Rosales in the second race, and Sam Hitchcott rode Majed Al Jahouri’s Raheq to the winner’s enclosure half an hour later.

Race 1 – 1,400m – Turf

Winner: Girl Powerr Jockey: Xavier Ziani

Trainer: Jameel Salman

Race 2 – 1,400m – Turf

Winner: Ameer Al Reef

Jockey: Jesus Rosales

Trainer: Jaber Bittar

Race 3 – 2,200m – Turf

Winner: Raheq

Jockey: Sam Hitchcott

Trainer: Majed Al Jahouri

Race 4 – 1,600m – Turf

Winner: Nemrah

Jockey: Tadhg O’Shea Trainer: Ernst Oertel

Race 5 – 1,600m – Turf

Winner: Safir Bainuna

Jockey: Harry Bentley

Trainer: Ahmed Al Mehairbi

Race 6 – 2,400m – Turf

Winner: Udabaa

Jockey: Paul Hanagan

Trainer: Doug Watson