Hamares Wins Al Ain Opening Night Honours for Ffrench & Al Jahouri

Al Ain Racecourse staged its first meeting of the fledgling season on Friday afternoon when the featured 1600m handicap was won in dramatic fashion by Hamares.

Homebred by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trained by Majed Al Jahouri, Hamares appeared to hold little chance at halfway but his jockey, Royston Ffrench, is not one to concede defeat.

He demanded a response from his mount, rousting him along on the far turn and, on the long home straight, was rewarded with Hamares flashing home in the final 100m to lead close home and snatch an unlikely victory.

“He really picked up nicely when it mattered,” said Ffrench. “We know he stays further so hoped he would be staying on late and that is exactly what happened.”

Thirty minutes earlier, the 1600m handicap had been won impressively by Sauternes Al Maury under Dane O’Neill.
Trained by Doug Watson for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Sauternes Al Maury looked a horse to follow when making a winning debut over 1400m at Al Ain in January.

However, stepped up to 1800m for his only subsequent start, also at Al Ain, he was well beaten on that occasion but certainly bounced back here.

“He is a horse we have always liked,” said O’Neill. “I did not ride him in his races last season but have ridden work on him so know he is a nice horse.

“We have put a visor on him to tonight and he has responded very well to win nicely. I am not sure how good he is but the potential is there and he is an interesting prospect going forward.”

Debutante Amwaj started her career in fine style with an ultimately smooth success in a 2000m maiden.

Far from the fastest away under Gerald Avranche, she stalked the leading group throughout the early stages before being asked to challenge in the long straight.

She only hit the front close home but nonetheless looked a comfortable winner and Avranche said: “She will hopefully have learned a lot from that and has had a proper, educational, race.
“She had been working nicely enough so we hoped she would run well and we hope there is more to come.”

The jockey wasted little time in completing a maiden double by producing Zaatar Al Reef close home to grab the spoils in a 1600m maiden.

Trained by Abdallah bin Hammadi and having his second career start, Avranche’s mount was unsighted on his debut, over 1200m at Sharjah in February.

Slowly away on this occasion, he eased into contention at halfway before staying on strongly to put his head in front where it mattered.

Avranche said: “We missed the break but he was soon in contention and then produced a good finishing effort.
“He should improve for that experience.”

The only Thoroughbred race on the card was a maiden over 2000m and apprentice Ismail Koyuncu was able to open his own account for the season as well as that of trainer Mohd Ibrahim with the victory of Godrevy.

The fixture opened with a 1000m handicap in which RB Goliath landed the spoils in determined fashion under apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei.

Trained by Helal Al Alawi, RB Goliath was doubling his career tally, and recording a first win locally at the second attempt, having shown plenty of promise on his local debut at Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

The jockey said: “He did that quite nicely and the trainer was fairly hopeful coming into the race.”

The finale, a 1400m maiden, provided Sarraf the perfect opportunity to open her career account in a thrilling finish in which the lead changed three times in the final 50m.

Even then, Jeanne’s charge, produced with a perfectly timed challenge by UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, only just denied the late challenge of Carlos De Carrere and Bruno Reis.

Jeanne said: “She is a nice filly but perhaps not the most straightforward. We might try her on the turf at Abu Dhabi again now she has a win to her name.”