Al Ain Offers Purebred Blue Riband For The First Time

Al Jazi wins first time out
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Four-year-olds set for prestige

AL AIN RACECOURSE unveils the Al Ain Derby (1800m)on Friday, a Prestige grade contest restricted to four-year-old Purebred Arabians and offering total prize money of AED 100,000.

The Al Asayl Stables of owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trainer Eric Lemartinel which again has been the powerhouse of Purebred Arabian ranks this season holds a strong hand with both Men Alemarat and Al Jazi declared to line up in the 12 strong field.

Leading jockey Tadhg O’Shea who heads the riding table with 38 wins, 23 on Purebred Arabians, has been booked for Al Jazi, an impressive winner of her only start in the Emirates Fillies’ Classic (1600m) on turf at Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

On the evidence of that effort even with an extra 200 metres to travel and a surface switch to contend with she looms as the one to beat.

Stable stalwart Gerald Avranche who handled Al Jazi at Abu Dhabi switches to Men Alemarat, winner of a course maiden over 2000 metres two starts back before finishing down the track in a conditions event over the same track and trip at the end of January.

“The yard have two decent chances,” said O’Shea. “Men Alemarat faced a stiff task last time but ran well enough. He will be happier back in his own age group and has shown he handles the track.

“However, Al Jazi is a filly we have always really liked and she did well to win first time as she had not enjoyed an ideal preparation.
“She works well on dirt so hopefully the change of surface will not be an issue.”

A maximum field of 15 have been declared for the Remah Handicap (1600m) the only Thoroughbred race on the card for which Taqneen and Tartoor share the burden of top-weight.

Paul Hanagan, first jockey to owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum,has chosen to ride the Erwan Charpy-trained Tartoor, a German-bred four-year-old who will be lining up for his third UAE outing after filling the minor place in a 2000 metres maiden behind Skygazer two weeks ago.

The Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Skygazer, who finally greeted the judge after 14 attempts, is amongst the opposition again with stable jockey O’Shea set for the ride.

“Hopefully that win will have done his confidence the power of good,” said O’Shea. “The drop in trip should not be a problem and conditions at Al Ain really suited him last time.”

Stablemate Taqneen should also attract support from on-course competition players.

The five-year-old, to be ridden by Dane O’Neill, ran a decent third in handicap company over 1600 metres at Meydan, on his first outing in the UAE before seemingly failing to stay an extra 300 metres at the same track on his most recent start.

The gelding’s best form in England, including his sole victory, was over 1600 metres and he should give a good account of himself.

Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi saddles three in the race with stable jockey Fernando Jara set to partner Court Room whose best local outings have been over this journey, with his former United Kingdom form hinting he will be suited by the galloping track and long straight of the Al Ain course.