Dane O’Neill wrapped up the opening weekend of the UAE season with a splendid treble to set the early pace in the jockey’s championship with four winners.
He landed a double for trainer Jean de Roualle’s Purebred Arabians in a Maiden sprint on Sadiq Al Wathba and the day’s feature prize atop Hakaam, both in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s Al Wathba Racing.
O’Neill completed the three-timer by steering John Hyde’s Al Hadeer for his main patron Shadwell in the final race and solitary prize for the thoroughbreds, adding to his win on the opening night of the season at Al Ain on Murad Al Wathba for De Roulle-Al Wathba Racing.
Hakaam tracked the long-time leader AF Mukhrej under Tadhg O’Shea before taking up the running from the three-furlong mark to take the Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Handicap from Indys Day (Richard Mullen) and Saib (Ray Dawson) by half a length and two and a half lengths, respectively.
Meanwhile, the honours were shared on the opening night of the season with seven jockeys, trainers and owners grabbing a prize each in the seven-race card at Al Ain on Friday.
Omani jockey Abdul Aziz Al Balushi rode the first winner, Qased Sb in the Wathba Stallions Cup for the Arabians, trained by Emirati Ahmed Al Mehairbi for owner Naser Askar.
At Jebel Ali on Saturday, Doug Watson saddled a treble while the Jebel Ali trainer Michael Costa and jockey Jean van Overmeire picked up a double on their UAE debut in the six-race card.
The Jebel Ali Stables new trainer/jockey partnership got off the mark by taking the featured Shadwell Handicap with Mouheeb, the third race, and completed the double with Yojaari half hour later.
“Obviously it is great to get ‘the monkey off the back’ at the first meeting and it is very pleasing to see this horse bounce back,” Costa said of American bred Flatter colt Mouheeb.
“I am elated because I was a bit nervous ahead of today but that was great. Hopefully we can get him to the carnival now and he seems versatile regarding trip.”
Watson picked up the first two prizes with Anbar and Boston George, both under Sam Hitchcott, and then rounded off the meeting by taking the concluding handicap with Coast Sky ridden by Pat Dobbs.
The remaining prize on the card was won by the champion trainer Bhupat Seemar’s Tapitution under O’Shea, after the champion rider drew a blank on the opening night.
The Irishman added a second by taking the opener at Sharjah for Ernst Oertel’s first of the two winners at the meeting.
2.30pm: Longines DolceVita- Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (Dirt) 1,200m
Winner: AF Marmuq, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)
3pm: Longines Record – Maiden (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,000m
Winner: Sadiq Al Wathba, Dane O’Neill, Jean de Roualle
3.30pm: Longines Elegant – Maiden (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: AF Mouhayer, Marcelino Rodrigues, Ernst Oertel
4pm: Longines Conquest – Handicap (PA) Dh40,000 (D) 1,700m
Winner: Farhaan, Pat Dobbs, Jean-Claude Pecout
4.30pm: Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup presented by Longines – Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (D) 2,000m
Winner: Hakaam, Dane O’Neill, Jean de Roualle
5pm: Longines Master Collection – Handicap (TB) Dh40,000 (D) 1,200m
Winner: Al Hadeer, Dane O’Neill, John Hyde