Marathon Series Continues At Al Ain

Round Two winner back for more

PUREBRED ARABIAN STAYERS again take centre stage at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday with the Al Ain Stayers Trophy (3200m), Round 3 Of The Al Ain Marathon Series the final and most valuable contest on the seven race card.

A handicap as was the second round over the same journey four weeks ago, it has attracted a field of 15 but is probably not as competitive as the numbers would suggest with several running from out of the handicap.

Dig Dagon trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi won the second round of the series staying on strongly under Richard Mullen who retains the partnership.

“We were fifth in the first round over 2600m,” said Mullen. “And he really appreciated the extra distance last time. The handicapper has made life tougher for him but at least we know he stays and conditions suit.”

Runner-up in the second round but absent since, was Sheikh Down, one of four in the race to be saddled by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The choice of Tadhg O’Shea, he actually won the second leg last year, over the same course and distance denying stable companion Burj Khalifa, in opposition again this time, by a head.

Royston Ffrench again rides Burj Khalifa, on whom he went on to win the final round of the Al Ain Marathon Series (5100m). Gerald Avranche rides RB Rich Surprise for the same connections whose fourth representative, Rabdan, has the assistance of Jesus Rosales.

“These choices are never easy,” said O’Shea. “Sheikh Down is obviously proven under these conditions and was only just touched off in the first round.
“RB Rich Surprise ran well enough when third in the second leg and we know Burj Khalifa stays even further so, hopefully, the yard have several chances.”

Trainer Nacer Samiri is enjoying a good run in his first season as the main trainer for HE Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and saddles three for the owner who also has Ijad, trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi in the field.

Of the Samiri trio, Hamares, the mount of Wayne Smith looks to hold the strongest credentials although Harry Bentley enjoys a lot of success for the owner and rides stable companion Ghalib.

The trainer’s third runner, Merzal, finally opened his local account at the 21st attempt, here at Al Ain, over 2000 metres a fortnight ago. He has the benefit of apprentice Hector Crouch’s claim but may struggle to confirm that form with runner-up Ghadeeer.

Owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the mount of Paul Hanagan, the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Ghadeer was flying home on that occasion, suggesting this longer trip will suit.

The only Thoroughbred race is a 2000 metres maiden and Sheikh Hamdan again looks to have a major player, in this case Tartoor, trained by Erwan Charpy. He failed to fire on his local debut in a maiden at Meydan but, assuming he can adapt to the dirt, he would hold serious claims based on his form in England.

Should he disappoint again, at first glance it looks significant Freddy Tylicki rides Shamal for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash, leaving Xavier Ziani to partner stable companion, Rich And Righteous.

However, Ziani was second on his mount last week and fourth on the same horse a fortnight earlier, both times at Jebel Ali, so connections may feel he has built a good rapport with Rich And Righteous.