Full Field In Wide-Open Feature Tops Al Ain Friday Card

Friday’s second meeting of the new campaign at Al Ain is a seven-race card with just one Thoroughbred contest and six for Purebred Arabians, the best of which appears to be a 1400m handicap with the maximum field allowed of 15 due to face the starter. Ernst Oertel saddles three in said event for his main owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, whose retained jockey Tadhg O’Shea has opted to partner AF Makerah. That leaves Chris Hayes to partner AF Tathor and apprentice Adam McLean claiming a valuable 3kgs off AF Noqoush, who heads the weights alongside JAP Burhan.

“These choices are never easy, (as) we saw that last weekend when I missed two winners for Mr Al Nabooda and Ernst at Sharjah,” O’Shea mused. “I did ride one for them though so the team are obviously in great form and all three have a chance on Friday. It made sense to claim off AF Noqouah on her seasonal debut and AF Tathoor is also having a first run this term, whereas AF Makerah has had an outing. That, basically, helped me make a tricky decision in a very open race.”

Al Nabooda also owns AF Al Mehleb, a fourth runner in the race sporting his predominantly black silks and to be ridden by Fernando Jara for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. Course winner of a 2000m maiden last December, he is having his first start of the current campaign for a yard in good form.”

The aforementioned JAP Burhan, the mount of Connor Beasley, is trained by Irfan Ellahi for Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and has won once from just four career starts, all last season but in the early part of 2018. That one success was on his sole turf outing and he needs to show a similar level on dirt to trouble some of these.

Runner-up at Al Ain over 1600m last week, Fahadd will again be ridden by Richard Mullen for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Ahmed Al Mehairbi. Twice a 1400m winner on turf at Abu Dhabi, he has won at Al Ain, albeit over 1800m.

Eric Lemartinel saddles three for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Pat Cosgrave electing to partner dirt debutant Jaahiz. Victorious on debut in a 1600m Abu Dhabi maiden on this weekend last year, Jaahiz subsequently struggled in better company. The same combination also partners with RB Burning Ash, who looks to hold serious claims in the 2000m handicap. A staying third last week in the 1600m race in which Fahadd was second, he was a course and distance winner in January and may well prove capable of conceding weight to his 11 rivals.

Among the dangers is AF Al Baher for Oertel—who saddles three for Al Nabooda—the choice of O’Shea. Richard Mullen rides AF Taraha with Antonio Fresu, who rode a double for connections at Sharjah last Saturday, on stable companion AF Manzouma.

The only Thoroughbred contest is a 1600m maiden and Mullen looks to hold strong claims on Eagle’s Stare for Satish Seemar, another trainer whose string is in good form. Helal Al Alawi-trained Solar Shower looks a big danger under William Lee, as does stable companion White Sky for Royston Ffrench. Rua Augusta, representing Ahmad bin Harmash and jockey Connor Beasley, is another to consider in a wide-open contest.