LAST Friday’s meeting at Meydan featured a quality seven-furlong handicap and the first major purebred Arabian contest of the season, the Group 2 Bani Yas over the same distance.

The latter kicked off proceedings and class prevailed with the penalised AF Alajaj winning under Tadhg O’Shea for Khalid Khalia Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel. The five-year-old homebred entire was conceding weight to all his 13 rivals following his success in the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah over a mile here in February. He has now won half of his 12 career starts.

O’Shea completed a double aboard Ranaan in a six-furlong handicap, combining with Bhupat Seemar and RRR Racing, owners of the five-year-old gelded son of Hard Spun. Irishman O’Shea unleashed a decisive challenge in the straight, hitting the front about a furlong out and was never in danger afterwards.

The feature Nakheel Handicap looked competitive on paper but, making his debut on dirt, the five-year-old Raaeb looked a natural on the surface. Shadwell’s Irish-homebred son of Raven’s Pass powered clear in the final furlong under Antonio Fresu for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.

The winning trainer said: “That is great to have a winner on my birthday and this is a nice new horse to have in the yard, and one we hope to campaign at the Carnival next year. He obviously handled the dirt and we have turf options with him also.”

Clearly versatile

Previously trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, Raaeb won three times on all-weather surfaces in Britain and also has a turf victory to his name. Clearly versatile regarding underfoot conditions, he has won from five to seven furlongs.

The birthday boy was back in the winner’s enclosure after the concluding mile handicap, when Adrie de Vries led close home aboard Falsehood for Hamad Ali Hamad Al Hamroor. The winner is a six-year-old Irish-bred son of Kingman and was wining for the second time.

Ten newcomers went to post in a six-furlong maiden for juvenile fillies, but only two ever really mattered. Here We Are made a bold bid from the front but was unable to repel the challenge of Awasef, Pat Dobbs in the saddle for Al Rashid Stables and Doug Watson.

A daughter of Cairo Prince, Dobbs’ mount always had the eventual runner-up in her sights and probably won with plenty more in hand. The successful rider said: “She is still learning and green, so I wanted an early lead and something to aim at. It worked out perfectly.”

Longest race

The longest race of the evening, a nine and a half-furlong handicap, also went to Watson, combining with Sam Hitchcott who delivered Naser Askar’s Qareeb to lead close home and snatch victory in a thrilling finish when the first four home could have been covered by a large horse blanket. A four-year-old Speightstown colt, the winner was registering a third career success and first locally.

A seven-furlong maiden for three-year-olds was won in scintillating fashion by the Brazilian-bred Long Kiss, making his local debut and the youngest horse in the field having been foaled in the southern hemisphere. The Adriano colt flew home to snatch victory under Jose de Silva in the colours of Stud Guara Del Sar for Antonio Cintra.

Raced twice in Uruguay where he was a close second over a mile on his previous run, he will relish a return to the latter trip judged on this evidence. Cintra said: “We thought he would run well and we ran him twice at home to give him experience and have him fit. That was very pleasing.”

Perfect start to his training career

ALI Albadwawi enjoyed the perfect start to his training career at Abu Dhabi last week, having replaced his old boss Erwan Charpy at Green Stables.

Taamol, his very first runner, flew home to land the only thoroughbred affair, the concluding mile handicap under Pat Cosgrave.

Bred by Derek Gibbons, Tom Kerin and the late Ann Gibbons, the Shadwell-owned eight-year-old son of Helmet has now won seven times, all but two of them in the UAE.

Two days later, at Al Ain, a pair of withdrawals meant that their only thoroughbred race on the card, a 10-furlong handicap, was contested by a depleted field of just seven. It developed into a duel over the final two furlongs, Jazirat trying his utmost but ultimately unable to thwart Anizzah, the mount of Ray Dawson for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash and owner Khalifa Saif Rashed Al Maqoodi.

The seven-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream’s only previous career success was over this same course and distance just a week shy of a year earlier. Dawson said: “He was very keen after a break at Meydan last week and I was pretty confident coming here today. I am not sure this surface totally suits him, although he has won here before, but I think he prefers Meydan. Either way, he is a bonny little horse to have in the yard.”