x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hanagan continues winning ways with victory on Aqmaar

The former champion jockey added to his weekend wins in Sharjah and Jebel Ali with success in the 1,400m handicap.

Paul Hanagan rides Aqmaar to victory during the Nez D'Or Handicap at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Paul Hanagan rides Aqmaar to victory during the Nez D'Or Handicap at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum's retained jockey Paul Hanagan continued his great start to his first local season in the post last night with victory in Abu Dhabi.

The two-time former champion jockey added to wins at Jebel Ali on Friday and Sharjah on Saturday by steering Aqmaar to victory in the featured 1,400m handicap at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

Settled off the pace, Hanagan's mount made smooth progress 400m out and hit the front about 100m later after which he never looked likely to be caught."

"He has done that nicely although I probably hit the front a bit too soon" said the jockey.

"It has been a good three days and it is nice to be back in the UAE for the season. I enjoyed my time here about eight years ago and I am really lucky to have such a top job."

The only Thoroughbred race was a 2,400m handicap and Royaaty, made all the running under Xavier Ziani who was able to utilise his low draw to get to the rail and the pair were never headed. Kicked clear turning for home, Royaaty ran on strongly to provide his trainer, Mubarak bin Shafya with his first winner of the season.

A delighted Ziani said: "I love this horse; I won on him at Meydan also. He can be a bit tricky but he enjoyed being out in front going at his own speed and we know he stays further so I was always hopeful once we kicked clear turning for home.

"Well done to the whole team and I am delighted to have had a winner for them and the boss as a lot of work has gone into this horse."

AF Sanadek made it five wins on the bounce, all at Abu Dhabi, when proving much too good for eight rivals in a 1,600m handicap. Trained by Eric Lemartinel, he won his final three starts last season before winning at the track's first meeting of this campaign.

"That is the third time I have won on him," said winning jockey Gerald Avranche. "He seems to still be improving and I was always confident today. He is a nice young horse."

Champion Jockey Tadhg O'Shea was in the saddle on Chick Flick who ran out a comfortable winner in the opening 1,600m maiden. Trained by Ernst Oertel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the four year old filly was never far off the pace and O'Shea explained: "She has the speed for 1,200m and will stay further than this 1,600m. We were amazed when she was beaten here last time so we put the cheekpieces on her but she still made me work hard.

"She has a lot of ability but is bone idle! Hopefully she will go on to bigger and better things."

Nawfal Al Reef was the determined winner of the 2,200m conditions race in which he led most of the way under Richard Mullen. Trained by Jaber Bittar and a six-year-old, he was winning for the first time on his fourth career outing.

Mullen said: "He is certainly game and this step up in trip has really suited him."

Racing concluded with a 1,600m handicap won by Antioco Murgia on Desert Rose for trainer Mohd Ramadan

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