Naseem wins photo finish for victory in President of the UAE Cup

Harry Bently narrowly edges the Dh1 million Group 1 race over last year's winner Nieshan, while Thakif breaks the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club course record.

Naseem, ridden by Harry Bentley, won The President of the UAE Cup in a photo finish against last year's winner Nieshan last night. Jake Badger for The National
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ABU DHABI // Majed Al Jahouri and Harry Bentley combined to win The President of the UAE Cup and Al Ruwais Sprint and take the honours at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club last night.

Naseem edged out Nieshan, last year's winner, in a photo finish to clinch the Dh1 million Group 1 prize and Thakif broke the track record over 1,000 metres for the first of the two winners which made a fantastic double in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.

Bentley came with a sweeping late run on Naseem to catch Gerald Avranche on the line. Jarnin, also trained by Al Jahouri, finished third under Kieren Fallon.

Naseem's victory did not surprise the Emirati trainer, who said the five year old was a horse with potential despite not having won in three previous starts this season.

"He started off well with us when he first arrived from France last season, winning his first two races, the Arabian Triple Crown Round 1 and the UAE Arabian Derby.

"He was a bit unlucky in the last two races, a saddle slip and then ran a good third in the Maktoum Challenge Round 1. Tonight he ran true to his potential."

The trainer has earmarked the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 and the Dubai Kahayla Classic as his next objectives.

By winning the featured race of the night, Al Jahouri has now won all three Group 1 prizes so far this season as he also saddled the winners of the National Day Cup and the Maktoum Challenge Round 1.

Bentley said his horse ran a good race but was not sure he had his head in front when flashing past the winning post.

"He has run over this distance when he was four. He was a bit keen last year and I thought it would be a problem but he settled well and handled it well," Bentley said.

"When we got into the straight I knew he was picking up well but had he won, I couldn't have said … when we went over the line.

"It was indeed a wonderful evening for me. It was one of those days when things go right. I had two good rides and going in to the Group 3 I was happy the way Thakif ran. He showed a lot of speed and did it well to win."

Bentley got Thakif to the front in the final 100m to win from stable companion Rakha under Royston Ffrench for a one-two finish for Al Jahouri.

According to the trainer, Thakif broke the nine-year-old record of one minute, 2.06 seconds set by his grandmother Maha. He clocked 1:01.98.

"The 1,000m and 1,200m trip seems to suits him the best, although he has a won over the longer trip. In future, the plan would be to race him over the sprints," Al Jahouri said.

"I thought Rakha also ran a good race over this trip for the first time. She seemed to idle a bit once she hit the front and next time we'll have her blinkered."

AF Sanadek extended his winning record to seven from nine starts and did it more easily than in his previous races despite running in to traffic as the field swept on to the home stretch.

Avranche was trapped on the inside rail but once he was in the clear, the five-year-old son of Burning Sand cruised to the front to win at a canter.

It was AF Sanadek's biggest career prize, the Dh100,000 Gold Cup with Prestige status. He is now likely to step up in class for his next race, according to Khalid Al Rahoumi, the racing manager for the owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.

"He has progressed well with every race and the manner in which he won this race gives us every reason to think of running him in Pattern races," Al Rahoumi said.

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