Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 1 April 2020

Szczepan Mazur chooses wisely as Ihtesham takes Listed Abu Dhabi Championship in photo finish

The Polish jockey had to spend a good few anxious minutes before declared the winner ahead of RB Seqondtonone in Abu Dhabi

Szczepan Mazur celebrates after riding Ihtesham to victory at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Pawan Singh / The National
Szczepan Mazur celebrates after riding Ihtesham to victory at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Pawan Singh / The National

Szczepan Mazur had a hard task in choosing the right horse from a trio of Ibrahim Al Hadhrami-trained runners but chose the right one to win the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship for Purebred Arabians in a blockbuster finish at the capital’s racecourse on Sunday.

The Polish jockey had to spend a good few anxious minutes before declared the winner in a photo finish aboard Ihtesham to edge out Nicole Ruggeri’s RB Seqondtonone under Ryan Powell.

Mazur rode both Ihtesham and stable companion Marmara XM to win their only starts in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain respectively.

“It wasn’t easy which one to choose but I decided to go for Ihtesham because I thought she was better on the turf and Marmara XM,as good on the dirt,” he said.

“At the end, I’m glad I was on the right one. I had to spend an anxious wait for the judges to announce the winner. I didn’t know if I had won but relieved when the announcement was made.”

“We were in front too soon,” Mazur said of the close finish. “Ihtesham doesn’t want to be out on her own so early and the other horse came from way back, but thankfully she just held on.

“I was a little bit worried and the worse thing was the second horse came from way back and joined me as we went past the winning post. My filly didn’t fight back and it was tough.”

Fernando Jara followed up his double at Sharjah on Saturday to complete a treble in Abu Dhabi for three trainers.

He made all the running on Irfan Ellahi’s JAP Almahfuz to take the opener and then followed up with victory on Yaalail for his retained trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe in the only race for the thoroughbreds.

The Panamanian completed a personal treble on Helal Al Alawi’s Dahess D’Arabie in the fifth race.

“Yaalail likes the turf and he broke well to lead all the way,” Jara said.

“That wasn’t exactly the plan but when you get a good break and hold a good position you ride according to the situation. He did well to stay in front all the way to the finishing line.”

Jilani Siddiqui, assistant to Al Raihe, said they would look for more races on the turf for Yaalail.

“It’s the boss who decides where he goes next but I think the Listed President’s Cup [on February 10 in Abu Dhabi] can be one of the options,” he said.

“Before that we’ll see if we can find another race or two on the turf either in Abu Dhabi or Meydan. That would clearly give us the options where to take him next.”

Al Alawi completed a double when Connor Beasley produced a late run to take the concluding maiden on board Ezz Al Rawasi.

Updated: December 22, 2019 08:47 PM

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