Marathon Stretches Out At Al Ain

Haanoof and Buckell attempt repeat

HAANOOF bids to continue on her winning way in the second round of the Al Ain Marathon Series for Purebred Arabians (3200m) highlight of Al Ain Racecourse’s meeting tomorrow (Friday) evening in the eastern Abu Dhabi city.

The Nacer Samiri – trained mare appeared to need every bit of the 2600 metres journey of the first round, reaching the lead in only the shadows of the winning post and looks assured to relish the step up in distance.

Dubai based apprentice jockey George Buckell has been booked to maintain his association with the six-year-old.

“It was the first time I had ridden her,” said Buckell. “She seemed to really appreciate the extended trip but she is not a mare you can hit the front on too soon so I will have to take my time and work into the race.
“She should appreciate the extra distance and hopefully she will go very close.”

Buckell’s current apprentice’s allowance of 2.5 kilograms should prove invaluable as Haanoof was originally handicapped to concede seven kilograms to each of her eight rivals.

Samiri will saddle three others for the race, including Round One third Hamares who will again be ridden by former UAE Champion Jockey Wayne Smith.

The Al Wathba Stables pair were split by Sheikh Down who was only denied in the dying strides of the first leg.

The Eric Lemartinel-trained seven-year-old is amongst the opposition again and attempting to repeat his victory in the corresponding race of 12 months ago.

The French handler is also represented by Burj Khalifa, second last year before going on take the final round, and RB Rich Surprise who has wound up the choice of Jockeys’ Championship leader Tadhg O’Shea.

The Irishman was aboard when the five-year-old scored his second win on the surface landing an 1800 metres conditions race at the track on 26 December.

“These choices are never easy but this one was particularly tricky,” said O’Shea. “I won this race last year on Sheikh Down and Burj Khalifa has won over even further so their stamina is guaranteed.
“I won nicely on my fellow the last day and he gives every indication he will stay this kind of trip. We will only find out on the day but fingers crossed he will last home.
“You would like to think Al Asayl have three strong chances and hopefully one will land the spoils.”

Dig Dagon, the mount of reigning champion rider Richard Mullen, may be another to be suited by the extended trip. The Abdallah Al Hammadi-trained galloper was noted staying on behind Haanoof into a distant fifth in Round One.

The Dubai Handicap (1600m), the night’s only Thoroughbred race has attracted a field of 11 with the weights headed by the in-form Lanadam.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Italian-bred is making a quick return to action after winning the Al Basrah Handicap (1800m) at the track last weekend.

Stable jockey Chris Hayes has again been named for the ride.

“We were pretty hopeful going into that race,” said Hayes. “He had run well over 1600m on his previous start and the drop back 200m should not be an issue.
“I expect him to at least go close as he is in good form.”

Also reappearing after the six day break are runner-up Fa’iz, still seeking to lose his maiden tag after 40 winless starts, third home Ashdaq and Qannaas, fourth past the post.

The Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Tides Rise is also likely to attract support in the on-course competitions for racegoers after displaying some promising form in four UAE starts since arriving from France.

The four-year-old won a Jebel Ali maiden two runs ago then followed with a promising fourth in handicap grade on the same track.