Af Mathmoon (AE) gave his owner HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum his eighth winner of the Group 1 PA Dubai Kahayla Classic empowered by IPIC by bravely fighting all the way to the line.
It was a dramatic finish as the leader Thakif (FR), who looked certain to finish on the podium, suddenly veered completely to the right, losing the two-length advantage he had secured when coming into the final straight.
Once Af Mathmoon saw the light, he upped his game and beat TM Thunder Struck (US) by a neck with Thakif in third, while Handassa (FR), who had completely missed the start, nevertheless managed to finish fourth.
Angus Gold, racing manager to the winning owner, said: “Obviously we are very happy. This is such a thrill to win this race. And it is fantastic for (jockey) Dane O’Neill.
As to our other starter Handassa, it is such a shame that he always makes it so difficult on himself. I mean, it was amazing how close he got in the end, you can’t believe how close.”
O’Neill was delighted to start his Dubai World Cup night by winning this 2000m race on the dirt, which the partnership covered in a course record-equaling 2.15.45.
He said: “We got a nice break and Sheikh Hamdan said not to rush him. I landed a nice position, just behind the leaders without really having to do much and the race then panned out beautifully for me.
“When I turned in, I definitely thought I could be second and to be fair to my horse, when he saw the other horse duck, he really wanted it and then made the trip not a problem. It’s fantastic, especially with the boss here.”
There had been a doubt about Af Mathmoon’s stamina, but he said: “I could see Handassa finishing on the outside, but really my horse just fought on. He so wanted it. It was really a great performance.”
The five-year-old Af Mathmoon, a son of Af Albahar and Temptayshuhn, was bred locally by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, who was very emotional when he added: “I am very proud. This means that we can show the world that we can breed Group 1 Purebred Arabian horses who can compete in the biggest race in the world. I would like to thank Sheikh Hamdan and wish him all the luck with this horse. I’m glad, so glad.”