Veteran Mujahid Faces Potentially Improving Unexposed Youngsters In Al Ain Feature

Racing at Al Ain on Friday is officially highlighted by a 2000m Purebred Arabian conditions race, for horses who have not won twice, in which Mujahid appears to hold leading claims, at least on official ratings as he holds a lofty perch of 77.

Now an 8-year-old, after 20 starts he has won just once, his final appearance in his native France, over 1700m on turf, in July 2018. He joined Mohd Ramadan, making a very pleasing local debut in a conditions race over the same 2000m as Friday’s race. That was at the very beginning of February 2019 when trying to concede weight to all bar one of his 13 rivals. However, he has not built on that although both his best subsequent outings since his local debut, a third and a further second, have both been achieved on the Al Ain track where he is trained.

Now in the possession of Mohd Ramadan, referred to as Mohd Al Aaser as an owner, this will be his first outing from the stable of his son, Kareem Ramadan, who has booked the services of Royston Ffrench.

Kareem Ramadan said: “His first start when trained by my father was over 2000m and he was a good second, so hopefully he can bounce back to something like his best.”

However, the opposition includes several unexposed rivals, including Munfared, a 4-year-old colt who was well beaten on debut on the Abu Dhabi turf before landing a 1400m Al Ain maiden, his only subsequent start, three weeks ago. That success was achieved under Fernando Jara. Antonio Fresu takes the ride this time for Al Rahmani Racing and trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi.

Abdallah Al Hammadi and his main patron, Al Ajban Stables, are enjoying a great season and have two chances with both Gerald Avranche’s mount Oss and Majdi, to be ridden by Szczepan Mazur, seeking to double their career tallies.

Eric Lemartinel saddles one of the most intriguing runners in the shape of the once raced, Muthhel, the mount of Fabrice Veron and in receipt of weight from his 12 rivals. A 4-year-old gelding, homebred by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he is making his local and dirt debut, his only previous start having been when well beaten in a 2100m Toulouse maiden in the middle of the November just gone.

The finale and only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 2600m handicap, has attracted a capacity field of 15, including Cinq Rues, the course and distance track record holder after his breakthrough success, after 13 defeats, last March. Trained by Khalifa Al Mazrouei for Nadia Soloman, the 9-year-old was not beaten far on his only start since, his seasonal debut, in a 2400m handicap at Abu Dhabi.

Jesus Rosales, in the saddle and for his record breaking success last year, rides again and said: “He was impressive winning in Al Ain last year and that was a good comeback at Abu Dhabi, staying on nicely over a slightly shorter trip. He should run well.”

Course specialist Antimo has saved all his best performances for his favourite track, thrice finishing runner-up as well as boasting a pair of victories. Both those wins were achieved over 2000m, but he was second in the equivalent race to this last year, his only attempt at the extended distance. Bred by Darley, the 8-year-old Dubawi gelding was not raced by Godolphin, making his belated racecourse in January 2019 for Ahmed Al Shemaili who still trains him. Second, over 2000m here at Al Ain three weeks ago, he was ridden then by Antonio Fresu, as he has been on all five career highlights as mentioned above.

Al Shemaili said: “He obviously likes conditions at Al Ain and it is always a bonus when Antonio Fresu is available because they get on so well. We are expecting a big effort.”

Fernando Jara partners the least experienced runner in the race, Anizzah, for Ahmad bin Harmash on what will be just a fourth career start for the 6-year-old Oasis Dream gelding, all this season. Runner-up on his 2000m debut, his sole Al Ain outing to date, he has not really landed a blow at either Meydan or Jebel Ali on his two subsequent outings, but looks well worth a try over this 2600m.

Jara said: “He ran well the first day and was staying on well so the Al Ain surface is not an issue, so, we hope, the longer trip suits.”