SANDOWN, ENGLAND // Sir Bani Yas came with his customary late rattle to win the Group 1 HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup on Saturday to set up a re-match with world champion Al Mourtajez.
This racecourse nestled outside London was decked out in UAE flags and Abu Dhabi sponsorship on account of the support of the HH Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Festival, and to see the silks of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE, being carried to victory by the grey son of Amer must have been a welcome sight.
Sir Bani Yas is now likely to have a break as it was his second run in three weeks, having been slammed by Qatar’s Al Mourtajez by eight lengths at Goodwood last month.
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His trainer, Elizabeth Bernard, who was wearing a red jacket and white trousers to match her patron’s colours, would like to prepare him for the Qatar Arabian World Cup at Chantilly in October, which will be his final race before retirement.
“He has been perfect since Goodwood and is in good form,” Bernard said. “I thought he would win because the opposition was not as good as last time.
“This horse is very clever and he only does the minimum. He is very special. He is at his best now as a six-year-old.”
Tadhg O’Shea, who is based in Ireland for the summer before he returns to the UAE in October, had Sir Bani Yas positioned out the back of the eight-runner field as Jaldi Karo led them along under Timmy Murphy.
As the field came in to the straight, Oisin Murphy made a bid for the stands’ side rail, but not all of the jockeys went with him. O’Shea and Harry Bentley on Lahoob preferred to keep to the middle, while Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s Awzaan, ridden by George Baker, stuck to their line on the far side.
Lahoob acted as the perfect tow in to the race for Sir Bani Yas, however, and having made smooth progress 400 metres from the finish, the President’s horse cruised to the front to beat Sheikh Hamdan’s Aghsaan and Dane O’Neill by just under two lengths.
“Tactically it was a tricky race to ride because they split in to three groups,” O’Shea said. “I did not want to get to the front too soon, and I rode him with a lot of confidence and rode him as if he was the best horse in the race, which on all known form he was.
“He pricked his ears and had plenty left and would have been better if all the other horses were around him. He got a bit lonely in the last 100 yards.”
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