Classy Quartet Clash In Al Ain Sprint Feature

The spotlight is on the sprinters at Friday’s penultimate meeting of the Al Ain season, officially highlighted by the 1000m Al Ain Sprint, a conditions race which has attracted a select field of just four headed by Arif, thrice an Al Ain winner including a pair of victories over this 1000m course and distance.

Trained by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, The Royal Cavalry of Oman 8-year-old homebred entire won over Friday’s track and trip at the end of January and has finished third in both outings, each at Al Ain, since.

Polish jockey Szczepan Mazur is seeking a fifth win on the horse and said: “I have a good record on this horse and we know conditions suit him, so he should go there with a good chance. However, even though there are only four runners, it does look a strong race.”

On his penultimate start, Mazur’s mount was a close third to Rawaa, staying on strongly, but unable to produce a decisive challenge in the final 100m. Rawaa is actually unbeaten over the Al Ain 1000m, after two attempts, and has generally been running in much bigger races, most recently when second, caught in the dying strides, in the Group 2 Liwa Oasis over 1400m on the Abu Dhabi turf.

Yas Racing’s homebred 6-year-old mare will be saddled by Majed Al Jahoori with Sam Hitchcott, aboard on her latest two starts, the aforementioned second in the capital and her most recent Al Ain success, maintaining the partnership.

Hitchcott said: “She has plenty of speed as we know and the Al Ain 1000m really suits her. She has been in great form and must have a big chance dropping back in class.”

Dividing Rawaa and Arif in that 1000m Al Ain conditions race six weeks was Ghazwan Al Khalediah, prepared locally by Helal Alalawi and, unlike the other pair, not seen in public since. A 9-year-old entire, owned by Abu Dhabi Racing, Alalawi’s charge has registered all four career victories at Al Ain, the three most recent over Friday’s 1000m course and distance, the latest this season in December.

He made a brave effort to make all the running when caught by Rawaa last time and Alalawi has booked Abdul Aziz Al Balushi hoping his apprentice claim can help even things up.

Alalawi said: “Our horse saves his best for Al Ain and is naturally quick, so the straight course really suits him.

“He arrives fresh and well. Rafaa beat us last time, but she has had a hard race since and we are better off at the weights this time by using the apprentice.”

The classy quartet is completed by MH Rahal seeking to provide trainer Elise Jeanne a belated first winner of a frustrating season. The mount of Bernardo Pinheiro, Mansoor Khalifa Sultan bin Habtoor’s homebred 7-year-old entire is another mostly seen in much better grade races than this; his latest appearance was in the Group 1 Emirates Championship.

This will be his first attempt at 1000m, but he did lose his maiden tag, on his second outing, in a 1200m maiden at Sharjah, another straight, flat, sprint track.