ABU DHABI // Shadiyda and Monte Alto, two of the most consistent runners this season, shared the honours on the final night of the season at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Shadiyda, the 2007 Arabian Derby winner, took the Group One Emirates Championship convincingly under Ted Durcan, the seven-time UAE champion jockey, and Monte Alto held off a late challenge from Biarritz to claim the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship.
Monte Alto's victory regained the trainers' championship lead for Ali Rashid al Raihe, the Emirati handler, from Doug Watson. Al Raihe now goes into the season finale seven-race Dubai World Cup card next Saturday with 27 wins, one more than Watson, with Saeed bin Suroor, the Godolphin trainer, on 24. Tadhg O'Shea has all but secured the jockeys' crown after winning the second race last night on Gillian Duffield's AF Mursid, coming with a late run to beat Dahdah and the favourite Mooser in the Imax Handicap over seven furlongs.
Shadiyda's victory was long overdue. The Eric Lemartinel-trained seven-year-old by Al Sakbe was winning on his seventh attempt of the season. "He has been unlucky in all the races and tonight everything went in his favour," said his trainer. "He has never run a bad race but for some strange reason he either ran into traffic or came up against a better horse on the night." Daragh O'Donohoe set the early pace on Rabah De Carrere but the chasing pack caught him as they swept past the final bend.
Richard Hills made the first move on last year's runner up, Nesnaas, as they headed past the two-furlong marker, but Durcan had Shadiyda well placed and moved from the outside with a sweeping run to go clear and win by more than seven lengths. Vire Volte, under Jesus Rosales, finished third ahead of Amoking, ridden by Royston Ffrench in the 16-runner field over the 11-furlong trip. Durcan, who has ridden Shadiyda in most of his races, said: "He has run well all year and if any horse deserved to win this prize, it was this horse.
"He was fitted with blinkers and that helped. Everything went in his favour on the night. "I was happy to sit behind in the early part of the race. There was good early pace. He has always been honest, and now he is older and wiser." Monte Alto, who was running in his 14th race of the season, was rewarded for his consistency under a patient ride from Hills. The veteran Englishman had his mount well placed along the rails in fifth place as Frankie Dettori took them along on Wonder Lawn for most of the 11-furlong trip.
Hills upped the pace on Monte Alto in the final furlong, where he was joined by Biarritz, under Kevin Shea, and the two battled it out to the line. Meeris, under Kieron Fallon, was a good third and David Badel on Celtic Wolf was fourth. The Italian apprentice Antioco Murgia won the first and last races to complete the season with a fine double. He made every yard of the running on Mahmood Hussain's Dayrah to take the opener and then won the final race on Qadi Du Bac.