BF Mughader's Friday Feature Win Tops Al Ain Action

Racing at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday evening was highlighted by a competitive 2000m handicap, which did not disappoint with the lead changing hands at least three times in the final 500m. RB Goliath took up the running at about halfway, but was immediately challenged for the lead by AF Mahshoum, who passed him briefly before RB Goliath regained the initiative once he was then able to hold on to until headed passing the 200m pole by RB Rich Surprise. Meanwhile, BF Mughader was able to challenge between, snatching the lead with about 100m left and staying on well to land the spoils.

It had not looked a likely victory when, after veering left at the start, BF Mughader found himself last of the ten runners but Antonio Fresu, riding for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and completing a double, did not panic; he let his mount find a good rhythm before making steady progress throughout the straight. A winner once on dirt in his native Oman, BF Mughader won on his third and previous UAE outing, all on the Abu Dhabi turf, before switching surfaces here.

Al Hadhrami said: “He has not had that much racing and we were happy the surface would suit him. He won at Abu Dhabi over 2200m, so the distance was never going to be a problem. It was a good performance by horse and jockey.”

Just 30 minutes later, the trainer was celebrating a double when Al Mobher landed a 1600m maiden, winning for the first time at the eighth attempt. Owned by The Omani Royal Cavalry, it was a belated first winner of the season for jockey Adrie de Vries. “Obviously it is nice to get that winner on the board after a quiet start,” de Vries said. “Hopefully I can add to that now, especially with the Carnival at Meydan about to start.”

De Vries did not have to wait long to double his seasonal tally, recording an ultra-smooth victory on Munowra in the concluding 1400m maiden. Having just her second start, she is trained by Jean de Roualle. “She is a lovely filly and one we have big expectations from,” de Roualle said. “She was clueless on her first start, but is starting to understand what we want now. She has a lovely pedigree and will be a nice broodmare, but hopefully she can win more races. We will take her to Abu Dhabi on the turf next and expect her to be better on grass.”

The action kicked off with a 1000m handicap, won in style by AF Mukhifah, who was never headed under Fresu and chased throughout by stable companion AF Meeqat, the mount of Connor Beasley, with the pair first and second throughout. It was a third career victory for Fresu’s mount, but first on dirt after two Abu Dhabi turf wins.

Both the first two are homebred by reigning Champion Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and trained by Ernst Oertel, who said, “She is a decent enough sprinter and did that well. We will probably run her back at Abu Dhabi but I think this will be her last season racing and she will be retired to stud.”

If her victory was comfortable, that of AF Sanad in the conditions race that followed over the same 1000m was far from so. Having tracked the early pace, he went to the front about 300m from home, but was soon collared by AF Al Asef, who seemingly had the race won entering the final 100m. However, he started to tire markedly and Anas Al Siyabi was able to muster a desperate late challenge from AF Sanad, who regained the initiative right on the line. Trained by Khalifa Al Neyadi, AF Sanad has now won two of his five career outings, both at Al Ain, having won a 1600m handicap in early December.

Al Neyadi, who also owns the winner, said: “He is a nice young horse who is learning all the time. He has done well to get back up over a trip that short.”

Like the feature, the only Thoroughbred race was also a 2000m handicap and it proved the ideal opportunity for Jintshi to open his UAE account at the 12th attempt with Richard Mullen always looking confident. A winner once in England when trained by Mark Johnston, he is now in the capable hands of Satish Seemar and relished conditions here. One of three horses challenging entering the long straight, he seemingly outstayed Untold Secret, with the pair of them having seen off Epsilon, and was eventually chased home by Emirates Airline, like the winner, owned by Al Bait Mutawahed Team.

Assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar explained: “He is actually a really nice horse but he needs a flat track, like this one at Al Ain and at least 2000m so it is not always easy to find the right races for him. This looked a perfect opportunity for him and it worked out well. He stays further and hopefully we can find another race here.

Mullen, riding his 399th UAE winner, added: “We always thought this long straight would really suit him and, luckily, it has. We were pretty positive coming here today and, hopefully, he can build on this.”

The powerful Al Asayl team rarely leave Al Ain empty handed but had to wait until the penultimate race, a 1600m handicap, to get on the scoresheet, courtesy of the hard fought victory of Wathiq. Previously a maiden, after just two starts on turf at Abu Dhabi, he was ridden patiently by Tadhg O’Shea and sported the silks of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Trainer Eric Lemartinel said: “I am really pleased to see this horse win because he nearly died last year from colic and it has been a big effort from the whole team to get him on the track.”