22 December 2023

ERA Al Ain Preview

Al Ain host a bumper nine-race card on Saturday thanks to two maiden races being split into two divisions owing to the enormous number of entries received. 

The feature race is the 0-85 handicap (6.30pm) for the Purebred Arabians over 1400m and carries a purse of AED80,000. AF Afham looks like the likely winner following a respectable third behind the winning machine Taj Al Izz last start. 

Tadhg O’Shea’s mount could provide a welcome first winner at Al Ain this season for trainer Ernst Oertel whose yard appears to be gradually returning to form with a couple of winners last weekend. 

His chief threat could come from Fakhr who was also beaten into third on seasonal reappearance by Taj Al Izz before winning a sprint handicap at Abu Dhabi. The turf-to-dirt angle looks interesting, and he represents a yard which has been at the top of their game this season. 



The sole thoroughbred contest, a 0-75 handicap (6pm) over the 1600m, features a wide-open contest. Bhupat Seemar is mob-handed in the contest with a quartet representing the master of Zabeel Stables. 

Stable jockey Tadgh O’Shea has opted for Yurman who has now been dropped to a generous mark of 75 following a pair of under-par efforts this term. That should help his cause. 

Fresh from a maiden UAE success at Sharjah last weekend, Andrew Slattery grabs the ride aboard Maputo. He is a course and distance winner from the last campaign but has been struggling to keep up with the lofty rise in his rating as a consequence of that victory. Back to the place of his maiden success, he remains of interest here.

The evergreen Hyde Park makes most appeal, though. He was a no-show at Meydan on his latest start, but that came over a furious 1200m and a more relaxed mile here will be better suited to the nine-year-old. 

He is down to a rating of 73 following that dismal effort which is two lower than his last winning mark of 75. With stall five, he is bound to be ridden prominently and can put the race to bed if allowed to lead on his own terms. 

Stablemate Benzema is another one to keep an eye on. He may have only one placing to his name from 13 starts in the UAE, but he has shown promise on occasion during those runs. 

To date, the Thoroughbred season has centred around the dominance of Michael Costa’s yard, and they dispatch recent winner Zammit for this contest. He found an easy handicap to shed his maiden tag last time but will have to negotiate a steep rise in ratings. 



Race two (4.30pm) is a handicap over the 1800m trip for the Purebred Arabians and sees the return of the ever consistent but frustrating AF Man’oot. Having filled the runner-up spot in five of his last seven starts, connections will be hoping he can finally get his head in front. This race is no walkover by any means with the Ibrahim Al Hadhrami pair of Alsaeid and Hakeem Al Izz looking strong contenders.

In the finale (8pm), a 1000m dash for the Purebred Arabians, the Majed Al Jahoori-trainee Wadheha looks to hold the aces. She did well to keep on for fifth in a hotly contested Conditions event over course and distance last out and looks clear of the rest on paper with Bernardo Pinheiro taking the ride.