Watson’s mare seeks place in Al Ain racing record books

Al Ain stages the third round of the Al Ain Marathon Series on Saturday, a 5100m prestige handicap for which nine have been declared, the weights headed by Al Mahbooba, seeking to become the first horse to land all three legs in the same season.

A 7yo mare, she won the 3200m first leg comfortably, under Sam Hitchcott, before turning round two, over 4100m, into a procession. Pat Dobbs, in the saddle for that second victory, is again in the saddle.

She runs in the colours of James Owen, a former Champion Purebred Arabian Trainer in the UK who saddled her to win twice, in consecutive weeks last September. She is now in the care of Doug Watson and, despite carrying top weight, she looks sure to be thereabouts assuming she stays the extra 1000m. The way she galloped home over 4100m, there must be every chance she will.

For Al Ajban Stables, Abdallah Al Hammadi has saddled the winner of this race, inaugurated in 2015, on no less than six occasions and in each of the four most recent renewals.

They combine with no less than five of the nine runners this year, Winked seemingly the first string with Tadhg O’Shea a notable jockey booking. Runner-up in the first round, she was then third in leg two and, just last weekend, was runner-up in the 2700m Sharjah Marathon.

Of the other Al Hammadi runners, Majdi and Oboe, at least based on official ratings, appear to hold the best claims. Their other two contenders, Guvnor and Kesra do not appear favoured by the weights but connections have sprung a surprise more than once in this race in the past so it would be folly to totally discount them.

Like Al Mahbooba, Winked is also a 7yo mare as is Loolwa, the mount of Antonio Fresu for Naser Askar and Musabbeh Al Mheiri. She has finished fourth in both the first two legs but connections clearly think she stays well and are happy to take on Al Mahbooba once again.

A maiden after 21 starts, Al Thoura ran well in the second leg, eventually finishing runner-up to emphatic winner Al Mahbooba. Homebred by the Royal Cavalry of Oman, the 8yo entire, trained by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, will again have the assistance of Ray Dawson in the saddle.

The field is completed by another maiden, Idris Des Arnets, to be ridden by Jean Van Overmeire for Omer Darag. Well beaten in both the first two legs, he subsequently failed to land a blow in a handicap over 1800m, on this track, just over a fortnight ago.