AF Alwajel stars in memorable Sharjah weekend for Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah
Champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea secures victory with a new track record time
AF Alwajel capped a memorable treble for the trainer-owner partnership of Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah in the year-ending race meet at Sharjah on Saturday.
The four-year-old AF Al Buraq colt, under UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, stunned defending champion ES Ajeeb to clinch the Crown Prince of Sharjah Cup for Purebred Arabians in a new track record time of 1:15:82.
ES Ajeeb, under Sam Hitchcock, was looking good but O’Shea tracked him all way over the 1,200 metre distance and eventually pounced on him to win by a length and a half.
“He’s a very nice and progressive horse, and now unbeaten in three dirt starts,” O’Shea said.
“Hopefully he’s onwards and upwards and it's very exciting times for him. It’s always tough when you have to run against a horse like ES Ajeeb. But we had a lot of faith and confidence in him, and he’s going the right way.
“He won in a track record time last season over 1,000m (in Sharjah) and again broke the track record. It was a huge performance ... a horse with a big and bright future.”
Earlier, Antonio Fresu completed a quick double for Oertel-Al Naboodah by taking the first two races on board AF Arrab and AF Mahaleel.
Dolman was third time lucky for Richard Mullen, winning the Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, the featured handicap prize for thoroughbreds in the six-race card.
The Satish Seemar-trained four-year-old Dawn Approach gelding came from around a wall of horses on the final bend to win by five and a quarter lengths from Doug Watson’s Big Brown Bear.
“This race went very well for him,” Mullen said. “There was a lot of pace in the race. I was a little further back from where I wanted him to be in the first half of the race.
“We were drawn on the outside (gate 13) but this horse stays the distance. So my aim was to wait and make my move on the backstretch and then he would come on for the final bend. That is what he did.
“He was unlucky in his two starts at Jebel Ali (runner up both times) on his reappearance. The first time he was hit from the whip twice over the head. The second time he was interfered.
“Everything worked out well for him today. It was nice to win a big handicap prize for the connections.”
Adnan Khan, the owner, said he would discuss his next race with the trainer and jockey, and decide where he was heading next.
“We’ll see how much he improves his rating after this win,” he said. “We have a lot of options with him and one possibility would be to run him in the (Dubai World Cup) Carnival.”
Updated: December 28, 2019 06:12 PM