Al Zahir Captures Group One HH The President Cup Again
The biggest meeting of the Abu Dhabi season was highlighted by the 2200m AED 2,500,000 Gr.1 HH The President Cup for Purebred Arabians. Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Dubai-based Al Zahir was able to become the fourth horse to win the race more than once, defending the crown he first wore 12 months ago and defeating France’s Al Shamoos, winning of November’s rich Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jew Crown (Gr.1). Retained by owner His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Jim Crowley was in the saddle on the winner once again as the made the winning move with 750m remaining and ultimately outstayed the aforementioned mare.
The only Thoroughbred race on the card was their equivalent, the 1400m Listed HH The President Cup and when Zainhom, trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, hit the front with less than 200m to run it appeared, briefly, as though owner and jockey would complete a memorable double. However, Harry Bentley had been making relentless smooth progress aboard Legendary Lunch since the 14 runners had left the back straight and, challenging widest of all, struck the front 100m from home to snatch the spoils. Wasim, never far off the pace, denied Zainhom second close home.
Restricted to 4-year-olds, the 1600m Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1, was turned into a procession by RB Lam Tara, who proved a class above 11 rivals. Owned by Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan and saddled by Eric Lemartinel, she won a course and distance maiden in similar fashion on debut in November before finishing a close fourth when taking on her elders in an Abu Dhabi handicap four weeks ago.
Tadhg O’Shea was positive aboard AF La’Asae in the opening 1400m handicap, the pair going straight to the front and able to shoot clear just past the halfway point after which they never looked in any danger. A course and distance winner as a 3-year-old in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, he had also won on his previous start, his debut, a 1600m maiden and this was career victory number four having landed a 2200m conditions contest in December 2016. Trained by Ernst Oertel, as was runner-up AF Motagahtres, the 7-year-old horse then missed the whole of last season and was having just his second outing of the current campaign.
Fourteen may have gone to post for the 1200m maiden but very few were ever able to get competitive with O’Shea and debutante AF Hoboub stalked by SS Rabeh with that pair locked in a real battle throughout the straight. The latter finally managed to get past AF Hoboub, but as they were duelling on the rail, Dohaa swept past them both down the middle of the track, leading about 200m to won comfortably under Richard Mullen for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trainer Mohamed Ali.