DUBAI // Atlantic Brave and Escape Route flashed past the post together in the featured 1,400-metre conditions race at Jebel Ali Racecourse this afternoon and, after much deliberation, the judge could not split them and announced a dead heat.
The jockeys Wayne Smith and Richard Mullen shook hands and were led in to the winner's enclosure to rapturous applause from an appreciative crowd after a tremendous battle between the pair over the final 200m.
Atlantic Brave, trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, had been narrowly beaten when runner-up in the same race last year and Smith said: "We're getting closer! I was in front for most of the last 200m but knew it was desperately close on the line - though I was confident I had not actually been beaten. "Both these horses have been involved in some great scraps over the years and this was another great battle and probably a fair result."
Mullen said: "I was closing fast at the end and was hoping we might have just made it but we will take the dead heat and these races are always a great spectacle for the crowd."
Escape Route is trained by Satish Seemar, who was maintaining his record of saddling doubles in thoroughbred races this season, having earlier won the 1,200m maiden with Ru'Oud under the apprentice Marc Monaghan.
Seemar said: "Escape Route has been a great servant and is a real favourite in the yard.
"He is such a character and we have to keep him happy in his work and try different things with him.
"Ru'Oud has a long way to go to emulate him but is a young horse with low mileage and has always shown plenty at home."
Seemar has now won all three thoroughbred maidens in the UAE this year.
Monaghan was not the only apprentice to visit the winner's enclosure. Saeed Al Mazrooei landed the concluding 1,800m handicap on Mutual Force for the trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
That was the second of two 1,800m handicaps, with the earlier one won by the Doug Watson-trained Jutland, who was given a fine ride by Pat Dobbs.
Watson said: "This is a horse we like and we will look at the Jebel Ali Stakes and then, hopefully, the Meydan carnival"
The jockey James Doyle, based on the course with the trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, won the 1,400m handicap for his boss on Kessraa, just as he had done 12 months ago, having earlier won the 1,200m Purebred Arabian maiden on Bouthayna Al Reef for the trainer Jaber Bittar.
Doyle, who missed the first Jebel Ali meeting two weeks ago, said: "It is nice to be back – especially with a double."
Meanwhile, Sharjah’s extra races are helping to cater for the growing number of Purebred Arabian horses in the country.
Last season Sharjah was awarded six meetings, more than the racecourse had ever staged before, and they have maintained that number for a second year, starting with today’s six-race card.
“The Sharjah meetings supplement the races in the flat for the breed,” said Pat Buckley, the racing manager for the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
“Abu Dhabi has been predominantly the venue for the Arabians but the demand is now for more with a significant increase in the number of owners.”
Abu Dhabi’s six-race card consists of five races for Arabians and one for thoroughbreds, a pattern followed at Sharjah. Meydan Racecourse and Jebel Ali stage a majority of races for the thoroughbreds.
Tomorrow’s feature race at Sharjah is the last on the card, a Conditions race for horses rated 0-70 and run over 1,700 metres.
It has drawn nine runners, including Knife and Fantastique MHF, both winners of four races at the track.
“The one thing we know is that conditions suit him and he loves it on the Sharjah dirt,” Knife’s trainer Tony Manuel said.
Doug Watson, who handles Fantastique, said: “He has to give weight to the rest but … should run his usual solid race.”
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