DUBAI // Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, combined to win both turf handicaps at Meydan on Saturday, led by Mundahesh, who broke the 1,400-metre track record in the official feature.
Hanagan held his mount up, well off a frantic early gallop, but when he asked him to close, he did so effortlessly with the pair hitting the front 200m out to win easily.
“The fast early gallop has really suited him, and he is starting to show the kind of form we thought he was capable of in England,” Hanagan said.
The first turf handicap, over 2,000m, was won impressively by Almoonqith, also ridden by Hanagan, riding for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan, but saddled by South African trainer Mike de Kock.
Again, Hanagan settled his mount in the rear, travelling strongly before pulling him out as the runners turned for home. His mount quickened nicely, enjoying a clear run down the outside, leading 200m out and winning well.
“We were very hopeful as his run two weeks ago was pleasing and put him spot on for this,” Hanagan said.
“They went quick, which has helped, and I was wanting to keep out of any trouble in the straight so was happy to go wide.
“He quickened well and it was a good win in a tough race.”
Racing opened with a 1,400m maiden on the Tapeta, won by local debutant Zurbriggen, opening his account at the fourth time of asking. Adrie de Vries was in the saddle for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash and the jockey said: “He is a nice horse and that looked a good maiden. He should progress.”
The 2,000m Tapeta handicap produced a nail-biting finish, with the verdict just going the way of the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Mutual Force, registering a fourth UAE win – all under Emirati apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei.
The jockey said: “We were in front when it mattered, but it was close and hard-fought. I really like this horse who has been good for my career so far.”
The victory initiated a double for the trainer, who also saddled Mundahesh.
Marc Monaghan was another apprentice to visit the winner’s enclosure, winning the 1,200m Tapeta handicap for the second year running on the Satish Seemar-trained Al Razi.
“I won this race on him 12 months ago and these are his optimum conditions. He quickens and battles, as he showed there,” Monaghan said.
Seemar doubled up with a last-gasp victory for Filfil and Pat Cosgrave in the concluding 1,600m Tapeta handicap.