Treble for O’Shea but Mullen takes feature for De Roualle

Friday’s third fixture of the new season at Al Ain was highlighted by the finale, a 1400m handicap with the prize staying close to home, the comfortable winner Musheer Al Wathba, who stormed clear under Richard Mullen, being trained on the track by Jean de Roualle, unsurprisingly for Al Wathba Racing.

Foaled in the UAE, the 6yo homebred entire actually made his racecourse debut in France, in July 2019 before switching to the UAE, winning a 1600m Al Ain maiden on his first local start at the very beginning of January 2020. He doubled his tally, two starts later, with victory in the Al Ain Derby.

That was in March 2020 and this was his first success since but he had finished in the first four on each of his latest quartet of racecourse efforts, most recently on his seasonal return 21 days ago.

For horses in private ownership, the opening 2000m handicap proved a relatively straightforward affair for AF Al Motamen, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for his main employer, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and the owner’s principal trainer, Ernst Oertel, a trio often dominant in these races.

Two non-runners resulted in a depleted field of just six and O’Shea was content to stalk the early pace set by apprentice Marcelino Rodrigues aboard stablemate AF Al Baher before O’Shea grabbed the initiative just after halfway and never looked in danger of being caught.

It was just a second career success for the homebred 7yo entire, adding this prize to a maiden success over 1800m here at Al Ain, on just his second start in April 2019. He was winning for the first time since on his 17th subsequent attempt.

The only Thoroughbred race, a 2000m maiden, looked a strong contest of its type but arguably produced a surprise winner with Ray Dawson delivering Vasilakos, trained by Ahmad bin Harmash for Mohammed Ahmad Al Subousi to lead in the dying strides, thwarting last season’s Group 3 UAE Oaks runner-up Arabian Gazelles in the process.

Dawson’s mount, a 4yo gelded son of Dubawi, was third on his sole previous racecourse appearance, on the Chelmsford all-weather, for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby. That was in the middle of December 2020, fully 701 days before this success.

A slow start did not help on this occasion but he was soon settled in the middle of the 13 runners before staying on very strongly over the final 350m to snatch what had appeared an unlikely victory at the outset.

Denied a quick double aboard Arabian Gazelles, O’Shea wasted no time making amends, this time combining with Majed Al Jahoori aboard Yas Racing’s Ajrad Athbah who dominated the final 150m of the 1800m maiden, opening his account at the eight attempt but just second in the UAE having finished third, here in Al Ain, over 1600m on his local and dirt debut three weeks ago.

A capacity field of 15 faced the starter in a 1600m maiden for 3yos and O’Shea was back in the winner’s enclosure, completing a treble, aboard Unleashed who was fulfilling the promise he had shown just last Thursday when third on the Abu Dhabi turf for Jaber Bittar and Al Reef Stables.
Never far off the pace, he put that experience to good use to stamp his authority over gallant debutant Altiber in the final 125m.

A round dozen, or 12 if you prefer, went to post for a 1600m maiden which proved a ‘one mare race’ with Sam Hitchcott seemingly making every post a winning one, taking Sihriella straight to the front and the pair staying there in the colours of Sheikh Abdulla bin Majid Al Qassimi for Ibrahim Aseel.

A 5yo mare, she had failed to win after 10 previous starts but made this look quite easy and connections will be hoping she can build on the overdue success.

Al Nabooda and Oertel completed doubles in a 1400m maiden, contested by the capacity field of 15, this time apprentice Rodrigues victorious aboard AF Muhem, finally a winner after 12 starts.
Initially settled just behind the leaders, the 5yo homebred entire had the race in safekeeping once hitting the front entering the concluding 75m.