05 March 2014

Group 1 Winners Feature In Al Ain Showpiece, Thursday

Quite A Show and Fryvolous Face Starter in Field of Eight

The UAE’s newest racecourse, Al Ain, stages a third meeting of the season on Thursday afternoon, with a six race card highlighted by a quality 1600m handicap, one of five Purebred Arabian contests on their new all-weather surface.

It has attracted a field of eight, headed by two Group 1 winners in the shape of Quite A Show and Fryvolous, with the former, trained by Doug Watson, conceding weight to all his seven rivals.

Winner of the Group 1 Liwa Oasis at Abu Dhabi in March 2012, as well as the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah on the all-weather at Meydan in December of the same year, Watson’s charge is having his first handicap start since January 2012.

The mount of Paul Hanagan, he should make a bold bid to give the weight away and Watson said: “He ran really well at Al Ain’s first meeting when having to give weight to some very decent horses. He was fourth then and clearly handled the surface.

“This is a drop in class for him and we are very hopeful of a big run. He should go very close.”

Now trained by Ernst Oertel, Fryvolous, winner of the 2008 National Day Cup and 2009 Dubai Kahayla Classic on Dubai World Cup night for Rod Simpson, has not won since July 2009. However, like Quite A Show, he faces his easiest task for a very long time.

With stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea suspended, the veteran 11-year-old will be ridden by Adrie De Vries who said: “It is a nice spare ride, obviously, and with the yard in such good form I would have to be very hopeful of a bold show. His two Al Ain runs this year, in better races, have been ok and this looks a good opportunity for him.”

Anything trainer Majed Al Jahouri saddles has to be considered to be in with a chance, so Aakif, under Royston Ffrench, is worth a second look in an open contest.

The only Thoroughbred race, the concluding 1800m handicap, will see the maximum field of 14 face the starter and it too looks very competitive. Doug Watson saddles three with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, aboard Centrifugal with Wayne Smith on stable companion, Karma Chameleon and Sam Hitchcott on the stable’s third runner; Etijaah.

Watson said: “All three must have some kind of chance; Centrifugial has been running well but has not been done any favours by the draw. We think Karma Chameleon will appreciate the surface and he has a decent draw. He should be staying on.

“Etijaah has only had three starts for us and can hopefully build on what he has achieved so far.”

Etijaah is owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose retained jockey, Hanagan, chooses to ride the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Almuftarris. Twice runner-up on dirt at Sharjah earlier in the season, he was an all-weather winner in England and should handle this surface.

Like Watson, Satish Seemar has three runners in the race and, with stable jockey, Richard Mullen riding in Qatar, stable apprentice Marc Monaghan rides Returning Hero, winner of his penultimate start at Jebel Ali.