Alalawi charge adds touch of class to Al Ain on Saturday

Racing returns to Al Ain for the first time this year on Saturday with the traditional seven races, this meeting highlighted by a 2000m conditions contest for which eight have been declared.

Helal Alalawi, who trains locally, appears to hold the strongest chance courtesy of RB Frynchh Dude who is, arguably, a class above his seven opponents.

The mount of Antonio Fresu, the 7yo entire won the Al Ain Cup, a Prestige contest, over this course and distance on his penultimate start at the beginning of April last year.

However, that success pales into insignificance compared to his 1900m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 at Meydan victory in late January 2021. A repeat of either piece of form would make him very hard to beat in this lesser grade.

Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea always make a formidable pairing in these races and they combine with Iridesse, a mare who arrived from the USA with winning form but has not set the world alight since arriving in the UAE. Now an 8yo, she will be having her fifth UAE start.

Abdallah Al Hammadi and Al Ajban Stables have enjoyed much Al Ain success in recent years and are represented by both Oss and Oxford, the mounts of Dane O’Neill and Fernando Jara respectively. Both should be competitive.

The only Thoroughbred contest on the card is a 2000m handicap and features a clash between course and distance specialists Antimo and Anizzah.

The former, to be ridden by Abdul Aziz Al Balushi for rookie trainer Ahmed Al Neyadi, twice won over this course and distance for previous trainer Ahmed Al Shemaili but not since this corresponding race almost exactly three years ago.

Anizzah, meanwhile, recorded his second course and distance success this season, in November, and should be thereabouts under Ray Dawson for Ahmed bin Harmash.