UAE - Saddling a winner on your birthday is extra special as Emirati handler Musabeh Al Mheiri found out at Friday’s Racing at Meydan meeting, thanks to jockey Antonio Fresu and stable debutant Raaeb.

Formerly trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, Raaeb arrived at Al Mheiri’s Oasis I Stables, which overlooks the racecourse, courtesy of Shadwell Racing, who are the new owners.

The five-year-old son of Raven’s Pass reveled in the Meydan dirt to record a three and half-length victory, the fifth of his career, following three wins on synthetic surfaces in the UK.

“I’m really happy to win this race on my birthday,” said Al Mheiri. “Every year I have luck on this day. Alhamdulillah.

“He showed me he is in good form even though he is short of work. It encouraged me to run him today. Which was good.”

Fresu was happy to give his boss a special present on his birthday and said: “This feels good. He’s a nice horse. He jumped well and sat behind the leaders and when I asked him to quicken he just quickened up really well.

“He looks like a nice horse for the future.”

The meeting opened with the Group 2 Bani Yas Sponsored by Dubai Island, the first Pattern race of the season for Purebred Arabians which was won by the hard-working Af Alajaj.

With 10-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea riding a blinder it was always going to be hard for Australian rider Jean Van Overmeire to rein him in aboard Nadelshiba, who nonetheless was not disgraced in defeat, by a length.

The winner, who is trained by Ernst Oertel for champion Arabian breeder Khalifa Al Naboodah, looks like he will improve for the run and big targets will beckon.

“He’s a horse we have always held in high regard,” said Al Naboodah of the French-bred. “We campaigned him at the highest level last season and this was a good race to start his new season. He’s not fully ready and carries a little condition.

“Hopefully he will train on and we look forward to targeting him at some of the big prizes during the season.”

O’Shea would complete a meet double when teaming up with the exciting Ranaan to land the View at the Palm handicap.

Despite having his first start in over 230 days, the son of American stallion Hard Spun showed no signs of rustiness and galloped strongly to the line for a four-length victory over Street Mood and Dane O’Neill.

Meanwhile, Uruguayan handler Antoni Cintra, wasted no time to get off the mark when he sent out Brazilian-bred Long Kiss to land the Palm West Beach Maiden Stakes from locally-trained Golden Arch..

Cintra, a former champion trainer in his native Brazil before moving to Uruguay, was delighted with the early success and said: “This time we thought we would come to Dubai earlier than we have done in previous years, to compete at the Carnival.

“It seems like we did the right thing, with this result. We have ten horses in training here and hope to bring two more for the carnival. With 12 horses you have more options to choose from. Yes, we’re very happy we got here early this time.”

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