ABU DHABI // The Italian apprentice Antioco Murgia made the most of his unexpected ride to win the feature Ghee Whizz Carrere race in the capital last night. Murgia, who was substituting for the injured Emirati rider Ahmed Ajtebi, made every yard of the running on the Ali Rashid al Raihe-trained Kerashan to win by six lengths from Jackson with Felix a further half-a-length behind in third.
"He is an honest horse. It is true he [Murgia] was the stable's second string but he took his chance and won on merit," said al Raihe. "It may be the return to the turf and Antioco rode a good race making all the running." The eight-year-old gelded son of Sinndar had strung out the field at the halfway mark of the 11-furlong race. "I looked over my shoulder after turning for home and we were comfortably in front and he has still going strong. He gave me an absolutely wonderful ride," Murgia said of Kerashan.
The pre-race favourite Envisage was last when the field rounded the penultimate bend and could only finish in the middle of the pack. Rod Simpson got off to a bright start with No Limit Del Ma running away with the opening race, a maiden over the mile distance, on only his second career start under Daragh O'Donohoe. "He picked up well when asked for an effort and ran on gamely," said O'Donohoe. "He's still a baby and so there should be improvement,"
Abu Dhabi Non Stop went down by half-a-length after challenging all the way to the finishing line with Salima De Faust a further three-quarter-lengths behind in third. Royal Class and Jawhara Al Reef provided back-to-back victories for Gillian Duffield under two different jockeys for two different owners. Royal Class, winner of a Group Two prize at Newbury and a Listed race in Abu Dhabi, burst through the pack to win the Bibi De Carrere handicap under Tadhg O'Shea in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.
The Irishman drove the five-year-old clear in the final 200 yards to win by one-and-a-half lengths from AS Muheeb, who tried to make all the running under Richard Mullen. "He was on a handy mark to win and won very well. He travelled well and picked up well when I asked for an effort," said O'Shea after riding his 21st winner of the season. Ted Durcan completed Duffield's double on Jawhara Al Reef in the silks of Abdul Malik al Yaqoub. The seven-time UAE champion jockey had the easiest of the winners on the night in the maiden race for local bred fillies and mares.
"She stepped up on her debut effort. She wasn't given a hard race on her first start and didn't have to be pushed hard to win this time either," said Durcan. "She's a very nice filly and can win more races." Bakhit al Ketbi's AF Asasi bounced back to claim his second prize in three starts under Wayne Smith in the Al Wathba Stud Farm for private owners, while Eric Lemartinel's Albar Lotois followed up his maiden win last week with another impressive effort to run away with the Nez D'or handicap.