700th winner for Shaikh Hamdan in Al Ain race

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700th winner for Shaikh Hamdan in Al Ain race

Dane O’Neill partners Etijah to glory in the 1800m TB Zakhir Handicap race

By Hisham Al Gizouli (chief Reporter)

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Published: Sat 31 Jan 2015, 12:09 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:34 PM

Etijah, ridden by Dane O’Neill, powers to victory at the Al Ain Racecourse on Friday. — Supplied photo

Etijah, ridden by Dane O’Neill, powers to victory at the Al Ain Racecourse on Friday. — Supplied photo

Al Ain City — Leading international horse breeder and owner Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, scored his 700th winner in the local season after Dane O’Neill partnered Etijah to glory in the 1800m TB Zakhir Handicap, the only thoroughbred event on the card at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday.

“He did it the right way,” said the winning jockey later. “This is the second time for Etijah to race over this distance after finishing fourth to Centrifugal over course and distance last March on the All Weather surface, but he was apparently suited by the new dirt surface this time out,” he added.

Introduced to thoroughbred flat racing while being a student in UK, Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum established his first stable there in 1981. Over the years, Shaikh Hamdan has acquired major operations Shadwell in England, Ireland, US and later Australia. Having won the Epsom Derby through Nashwan in 1989 and Erhab in 1994 he has also claimed the 1000 Guineas five times and the Oaks on three occasions. Shaikh Hamdan became the first Arab owner to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Invasor in 2007, who came fourth months later to earn Shaikh Hamdan his second Dubai World Cup.

Watson under spotlight at Meydan

Dubai — It may not be a Dubai World Cup Carnival meeting but Saturday’s card at Meydan Racecourse looks particularly competitive and is highlighted by a 1400m turf handicap with the maximum field of 16 set to face the starter.

Trainer Doug Watson, fresh from a Meydan double on Thursday, is responsible for three of them with Paul Hanagan partnering Washaar for his main employer

Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.

Watson also saddles Jally, the mount of Sam Hitchcott for the same owner, with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, aboard the yard’s third runner, Shamaal Nibras.

“All three are fit and well,” said Watson, who is also responsible for the two reserves in the race. “Shamaal Nibras was due to run in the Jebel Ali Mile last weekend but when that was postponed we decided to come here. He has had a nice break since a good win at Jebel Ali and should run well. Rashed Bouresly saddles an interesting contender in Jayed Jidan, a good winner of the Jebel Ali Mile Prep but surprisingly not among the entries for the Jebel Ali Mile itself last week.

Shaikh Hamdan was the British flat racing Champion Owner in 1990, 1995, 2002, and 2005. He has enjoyed over 50 Group 1 wins in Europe in addition to big race success in America, Australia and Dubai.

In 2014, Shaikh Hamdan was inducted into the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association hall of fame. Shadwell Stables won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Owner of 2007 thanks to the efforts of Invasor and leading filly Lahudood.

In 1992, Shaikh Hamdan brought part of his horses from Europe and elsewhere to Dubai with the beginning of the regular races in 1992. He’s now leading the standings table of the owners championship and moved very close to retain the title for the third straight season.

Meanwhile, Dane O’Neill completed a quick double in the subsequent race after he brought NS Shamikh home in a close finish to win by a short-head from early leader Ahmadani (George Buckle) in the 1600m Al Qattara PA UAE-Bred Conditions.

Safina Ghantoot, ridden by apprentice jockey George Buckell, cruised to a stunning win in the 1000m PA Al Maqam Second Leg of The Al Ain Sprint Series to deny Tadhg O’Shea a treble.

In the 3200m PA Al Ain Stayers Trophy, Second Leg of The Al Ain Marathon Series, Sheik Down, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, led a 1-2-3 finish for the horses of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to complete a hat-traick for himself and his boss Salem Al Ketbi.

Early in the evening, champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea partnered public favourite Rabdan to an easy win in the 2000m Al Jahili PA Handicap, the opening race of the night.

O’Shea didn’t wait for long to claim his third winner onboard Razeen in the 1400m Al Masoudi PA Maiden in front of fast finishing Qaitar Al Reef and behind them came Saif W’Rsan in third.

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