ABU DHABI // Escape Route will head for the President's Cup as one of the favourites after an eye-catching victory in the Prep race in the capital last night.
Given a well-judged run by Richard Mullen, the American bred six-year-old won by half-a-length from Hopes And Fears, who tried to make all the running under Wayne Smith. Yasood was third.
Gillian Duffield, the champion trainer for purebred Arabians, saddled a treble, taking her tally to six winners for the season.
Her winners were ridden by three different jockeys, Richard Hills and Tadhg O'Shea, carrying the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, while Ted Durcan rode Jawhara Al Reef in the Al Wathba Stud Farm Cup, a prize exclusively for private owners.
Hills rode Nesnaas to victory in the second race, the Sweihan conditions, and O'Shea, the champion jockey, came with a late run on Abraaj to beat Eric Lemartinel's pair, Raneet and Rakeel, 30 minutes later in the Al Jazeera Handicap.
Nesnaas, the highest rated (107) on the field, won on his first appearance for the season. Hills sent the eight-year-old grey into the lead at the final furlong pole and held off a late challenge from Kieren Fallon on Time Out to win by a quarter-length.
Hills, the retained first jockey for Sheikh Hamdan, completed a double by claiming the penultimate prize on Aqmaar, an impressive winner of the Abu Dhabi Championship Prep, a conditions race for three-year-olds run over the mile distance. The Englishman was last out of the gate but won by two lengths from Masharref, in the second colours of Sheikh Hamdan. Tahani, was a further 25 lengths behind in third.
Lemartinel, who has had eight winners in the last four meetings in Abu Dhabi, took the opener, the Al Bahia Conditions for horses bred in the Emirates, with BH Fatan, ridden by Gerald Avranche.