Initial, Mandolin Lullaby Top Al Ain Friday Feature

Racing at Al Ain on Friday, a seven-race card, features just one Thoroughbred contest, an ultra-competitive 1600m handicap which has attracted the maximum field allowed of 15 including Musabbeh Al Mheiri duo Initial, the choice of Ben Curtis and Jintshi, a nice spare ride for Fabrice Veron.

Initial, a 7-year-old Invincible Spirit gelding was a course and distance winner at the very first Al Ain fixture of the campaign in November before finishing third, then second, on two Jebel Ali forays. He has since filled exactly the same finishing positions, over 1400m and 2000m, back here at Al Ain where he will be competing for the third consecutive meeting, but back over what is seemingly his optimum trip.

A 6-year-old horse by Poet’s Voice, Jintshi was fourth, just two necks behind Initial over 2000m at Al Ain a fortnight ago having finished second over 1400m, also at Al Ain with Initial in third. He does have an Al Ain victory to his name, over 2000m last January when trained by Satish Seemar.

Al Mheiri said: “Both mine like it at Al Ain and normally run well there, so hopefully can do so again. They are in good form at home, so we are expecting them to run well in an open race.”

A 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, Mandolin Lullaby, who will be having just her fifth career start, looked good when winning on her second outing, in a 1600m Jebel Ali maiden. She has struggled in two subsequent handicap appearances, including when well behind Initial and Jintshi last time. The mount of Royston Ffrench, she is trained by Sandeep Jadhav who saddled a Jebel Ali double last Friday.

Jadhav said: “The return to 1600m should be in her favour and she has been working nicely in the mornings. We think she is improving and can go close.”
Seemar saddles both Press Room and Piepowder Court with Tadhg O’Shea aboard the latter, while Richard Mullen has opted for the former, a 9-year-old gelded son of Street Cry seeking to add to his two UAE victories both achieved at Meydan in 2015 with Mullen in the saddle.

With a sole victory to his name, in a maiden over 2000m on the Meydan dirt surface, Piepowder Court has clearly not been an easy horse to train. Now a 9-year-old, this gelded son of Pivotal will be having career start number 13, but fourth this season. That was the number of outings he managed last season since that maiden victory, having only been seen in public just once in both 2016 and 2017. He was eighth in the aforementioned 2000m handicap at the last meeting when weakening in the final 300m under O’Shea. Seemar’s third runner, Chord Chart, is returning from 670 days off the track and has the assistance of Jose Santiago in the saddle.

Trained locally at The National Stables in Al Ain, Compliance remains a maiden after 11 starts, but has been running well in defeat; his last four outings have seen him find just one too good on three occasions. Sporting the predominantly red silks of Abu Dhabi Racing, the 4-year-old Exceed And Excel gelding will be having his first start at his local track.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is a 2000m conditions race in which Amwaj is seeking what would be just a second career victory having made a successful debut, over 1600m at Al Ain, in November 2016. To be saddled by Eric Lemartinel for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he has been campaigned in good company, mostly at Abu Dhabi on turf since, and this will be just his third dirt outing having contested December’s Listed Madjani Stakes at Meydan.

Trained on the Al Ain track by Jean de Roualle for Yas Horse Racing Management, Munowra has only had four outings, winning the second of them, a 1400m course maiden last January. A 5-year-old mare, she is held in some regard by her astute handler and looks a big danger to all in a tricky race for those playing the selection competitions.

Abdallah Al Hammadi has his string in fine form, so a bold show from Officer would be no surprise after his victory a month ago, on just his second racecourse appearance, in an Al Ain maiden over 1800m. Another trained on the course, this time by Mohamed Ramadan, is Mujahid, a newcomer to the UAE who arrives with a solitary victory in his native France in a 1700m conditions race on his most recent outing in July. If the official handicapper is correct, having allotted him a mark of 88, he should be capable of making his presence felt in this.