Derby Thriller Highlights Al Ain

ES Kwashi edges home in Derby
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (

Home town win in debut four-year-old showpiece

AL AIN RACECOURSE`S inaugural Derby (1800m) for four-year-old Purebred Arabians put the the judge and the camera to work on Friday when Men Alemarat and ES Kwashi flashed post the post together in the AED 100,000 Prestige level feature.

ES Kwashi ridden by apprentice Manuel Fernandes, had led virtually from the outset but was headed by Gerald Avranche’ mount Men Alemarat over 200 metres out.

Fernandes’ mount refused to concede defeat though, fighting back gamely and putting his head in front again right on the line.

Trained on the course by Mohd Ramadan, who could be heard enthusiastically cheering on his charge, ES Kwashi was recording a second consecutive and career win.

Well beaten on his first two starts, both on turf at Abu Dhabi, he is now unbeaten on the Al Ain dirt after two wins in his subsequent outings.

“He won over 1000 metres four weeks ago but we hoped he had the stamina for this trip,” said Fernandes. “He has needed to stay well and has shown a great attitude. It is a big result for everyone involved and I am absolutely delighted for the owner and trainer.
“He should improve from this and it gives the trainer plenty of options regarding trip for him.”

Championship leading owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum owned two of the 14 runners in the Remah Handicap (1600m) the only Thoroughbred race on the card with his second colours worn by Dane O’Neill on Taqneen landing the spoils.

Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Taqneen was having his only his third UAE start, all this season and having a first look at the Al Ain track.

Doubling his career tally in the process, having won once for UK-handler Ed Dunlop when trained in England, he was in front from an early stage and committed for home a long way out by O’Neill.

They were soon clear and crossed the line four and a quarter lengths clear of Burnt Pavlova who ran on strongly but was never near to land a blow.

“He had been working well,” said Al Raihe. “We thought he could run a big race if repeating the form of his first run at Meydan.
“It was a big win and the horses continue in good form.”

The National Stables-based trainer Helal Al Alawi is enjoying his best season to date and saddled his 16th winner of the campaign, his third with a licence, with the victory of Naiem in this meeting’s edition of the Wathba Stud Farm Cup (1400m).

It was a ninth winner of the campaign for apprentice Hector Crouch who has impressed many in his debut UAE season and was never far off the pace on the winner.

They set sail for home at the top of the long straight opening up a lead they maintained to the finish scoring officially by a length.

“He had been running over sprint trips the last twice,” said Crouch. “We were helpful returning to this trip would help and he took me to the front easily and has held on gamely.”

The trainer completed a double, this time with Royston French steering, when Badira De Monlau turned the Al Muwaiji Maiden (1800m) into a procession.

Making a seventh career start and fifth in the UAE, Ffrench’s mount was far too good for her 14 opponents, relishing a drop in class having finished third in the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R2 (2200m) on the Abu Dhabi turf last Sunday.

She switched to dirt seamlessly trying the surface for the first time, breaking the track record in the process.

Rarely do the colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan leave Al Al Ain without at least one visit to the winner’s enclosure and Jockey’s Championship leader Tadhg O’Shea was wearing them aboard the Eric Lemartinel-trained RB Rich Surprise, successful in the Al Markhaniya (1600m) conditions race.

It was a third career victory for the five-year-old whose previous success has been enjoyed over further, once at 1800 metres, the other at 2000 metres.

“I had a bad draw in 13 but know he stays well,” said O’Shea. “He loves the dirt and had a fast pace to aim at which he needs, especially over this shorter trip.”

Owner and trainer looked set to complete a quick double when jockey Gerald Avranche aboard Tashkeel hit the front 200 metres from home in the Al Wataniya Cup (1400m), a maiden for locally bred Purebred Arabians, only to be denied in the shadows of the post by AF Al Asef.

Ridden by Fernando Jara for Emirati-handler Musabah Al Muhairi, he was opening his account at the second attempt and was another homebred winner for owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda actually full brothers the two, continuing a landmark season which was boosted further when he linked with rider Fernandes and trainer Ernst Oertel to win the concluding Mezied Handicap (1000m) with AF Thobor.