Make Mine A Double Is The Order At Al Ain

Ru`Oud celebrates Emerald Isle link

AL AIN RACECOURSE`S Friday evening fixture provided a rich harvest for owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, his trainer at Al Asayl Stables, Eric Lemartinel, along with former UAE Champion jockeys, Tadhg O’Shea and Fernando Jara who all had winning doubles to celebrate at the meetings end.

The most valuable race on the card was the finale, the Al Hili Handicap (1000m) and Jara was soon out in front on the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Love To Dance, having her first dirt outing locally after seven runs on the Abu Dhabi turf. The five-year-old was not for catching and had more than three lengths to spare at the winning post.

Formerly a Grade Three winner in her native USA, she was recording a fifth career win, all on dirt and relished the switch back to what is clearly her favourite surface.

“She has plenty of speed and we were keen to try her over the minimum trip,” said Jara. “All her best form is on dirt and we knew this looked a good opportunity to get her back on the surface she prefers. “She has won nicely.”

The 2007 Dubai World Cup winning jockey was celebrating a minimum trip double having landed the preceding Al Saad Maiden over the same course on ES Khawsi.

With two non-runners defecting from the original field since the Tuesday declaration stage, the race was fought out by two reserves, Ramadi Al Rawasi and Jara’s mount, trained on the track by Mohd Ramadan.

It was only the third career start for the four-year-old who relished the drop in distance after showing plenty of speed on his debut, over 1400 metres here at Al Ain, then was well beaten, in a stronger race, over the same journey on the Abu Dhabi turf on his only subsequent outing.

MH Areeb, produced to lead in the final 100 metres by O’Shea, landed the opening 1600m Wathba Stud Farm Cup (1600m), this meeting`s edition of the series restricted to private owners.

Trained by MH Stable-based Elise Jeanne, it was a fifth career victory but first 1600 metres win and second at Al Ain for the experienced seven-year-old.

“It is obviously the best possible start to the afternoon and Elise does well with the horses she has,” said O’Shea.

The season`s leading jockey was back in the winner’s enclosure 30 minutes later, sporting the famous red and white colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa having won the Emirates Martyrs` Cup (1600m), the longer of two maidens on the card, for Lemartinel aboard Meydan Du Paon.

“It was only his second career start and first on dirt,” said O’Shea. “He has handled the surface well and will have learned a lot today as he is still a big baby so, hopefully, he can progress again.”

Owner and trainer completed a double when jockey Gerald Avranche produced Smalah to hit the front inside the final 200 metres of the Jebel Hafeet Handicap (1400m), a comfortable success in the end with the mare scoring going away from runner-up Tha’Er.

It was a second career win, on her eighth outing, for the five-year-old who had landed a 2000 metres maiden at Sharjah in November when partnered by O’Shea.

“I knew she would be staying on,” said Lemartinel. “We hoped she had the pace to cope with the drop to the shortest distance she has tackled and she has finished off very strongly.”

The Zakhir (2000m), a conditions race, provide a milestone for Omani apprentice Saif Al Balushi who, riding in the yellow and green checks of Emirates Racing Authority Chairman HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, steered Merzal to an easy victory.

It was the 11th career win for the inexperienced junior, who was making his UAE debut at the meeting, and a first local success for his seven-year-old partner who had also never before won on dirt or at the trip.

The Curragh Racecourse, sponsored the Home Of The Irish Classics Handicap (1400m) the only Thoroughbred race which spotlighted a newly forged association between Al Ain Raccourse and the tradition-steeped headquarters of Irelands`s long racing history.

The Satish Seemar-trained Ru’Oud celebrated the link by doubling his career tally after a long run of outs.

Stable jockey Richard Mullen settled the eight-year-old just behind the pace before staking his claim after straightening and at the finish having more then two lengths to spare.

The British-bred gelding`s only previous victory was achieved in a 1200 metres Jebel Ali maiden, back in December 2012 and this was his 15th outing since.