South American jockeys, Silvestre De Sousa and Fernando Jara, took centre stage with each riding a double in the penultimate meeting at the Abu Dhabi racecourse on Sunday.
De Sousa, the reigning British champion jockey from Brazil, won the fourth and fifth races for two different trainers after Panamanian rider Jara grabbed the first two prizes on offer in the seven-race card.
“Riding a winner is always a happy moment,” said De Sousa, who steered Purebred Arabian Jaser to victory in the handicap over 2,200 metres and Muqaatil in the 1,400m maiden for thoroughbreds.
On both occasions, De Sousa timed his challenge perfectly. He brought Jaser with a run from the outside to win by two lengths from the Eric Lemartinel-trained Mukaram under Tadhg O’Shea.
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De Sousa was atop Jaser for the first time in his four local starts. The five-year-old chestnut has previously won three races from six starts in England.
“He’s a lovely strong horse. He has a lovely pedigree ad he deserved,” said De Sousa of Jaser.
For his second victory, De Sousa had Muqaatil well-placed behind the early pace setters before stepping on the gas on the final 200m to win by a length and-a-half from Nobelium ridden by Gerald Avranche.
“Muqaatil has taken some time but he won pretty well tonight,” the Brazilian said. “He wasn’t beaten too far in his last two starts and we were hopeful coming into this race. He’s progressing.”
Jara scooped the first two prizes in Abu Dhabi on Morjanah Al Reef and Bushrah Al Reef, both trained by Abdallah bin Hammadi.
The Panamanian jockey, who is remembered for his success in the 2007 Dubai World Cup on Invasor in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, came in with a late run to take the opener by a neck from another Lemartinel-O’Shea runner Tawazun.
Jara denied the same trainer-jockey combination again half hour later with a similar ride and result.
“They have both run well this season and the results don’t surprise me,” Jara said. “The first one (Morjanah Al Reef) came into this race having run a good second in the Emirates Fillies Classic. That was a race with Prestige status and we quietly fancied his chances.
“Bushrah Al Reef was a winner over the course and distance two races ago. She too came into this race with a chance. Obviously happy with the result and for the connections.”
Lemartinel and O’Shea got one winner on the board by taking the concluding maiden on RB Brick House, but not before a terrific run to the line with Richard Mullen atop Helal Al Alawi’s Aseyl, with whom O’Shea is engaged in a battle for the UAE’s Jockeys Championship title.
The win took O’Shea’s tally to 41, six more than Mullen with four meetings left before the grand finale at the Dubai World Cup on March 31.
Harry Bentley rode Elise Jeanne’s MH Tawag to victory in the third race, and Omani jockey Anas Al Siyabi on Khalif Al Neyadi’s Al Gadeer edged out compatriot Saif Al Balushi aboard AZ Laheeb in the Wathba Stallion Cup, the sixth race.