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Derby Winner back in Al Ain Action

Racing returns to Al Ain Racecourse on Friday evening for a seven race card highlighted by the finale, a 1600m Purebred Arabian Handicap or which 11 have been declared.

These include ES Kwashi, trained on the track by Mohd Ramadan and a course winner twice last season when successful in a 1000m maiden before following up over 1800m in the Al Ain Derby.

Likely to have improved from his seasonal reappearance a fortnight ago, he looks sure to run a big race under Fernando Jara, who was aboard for the colt’s maiden victory last season.

“He is proven under the conditions and the trainer sounds hopeful,” said Jara. “It is a tough race but we should be thereabouts.”

His claims are obvious but there are plenty of dangers, including a trio trained by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. With Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, suspended it would appear Cloe De Faust is considered the yard’s strongest chance under Gerald Avranche.

This will only be her eighth career start and her one career victory to date was at Al Ain when making a winning debut over 1400m just over a year ago. She has only had one subsequent dirt outing, at the end of last season, but could bounce back with the benefit of a run already this season at Abu Dhabi.

Stable companion Sheikh Down also ran at that same Abu Dhabi meeting and has also won here at Al Ain, albeit over the marathon trip of 3200m. Seeking an eighth career victory, he is the mount of Adrie de Vries with apprentice, Kamil Grzybowski aboard the yard’s third runner, Men Alemarat.

He is actually having his third outing of the campaign having won at Sharjah before finishing third, over today’s course and distance, two weeks ago. O’Shea was aboard on both occasions while Avranche was in the saddle when he was denied in a photo by ES Kwashi last season in the Al Ain Derby.

Joining O’Shea on the sidelines is Dane O’Neill, retained jockey for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and, therefore, unable to take the mount on Ashraaf.

Trained by Musabbah Al Mheiri, he won three times in Europe but has failed to make the frame in five local runs. Connections reach for a visor and this looks the easiest task he has faced in the UAE.

Four of the runners will sport the colours of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the Jean de Roualle-trained Hammsa, the mount of Richard Mullen, likely to improve on her one dirt outing thus far, when well beaten over course and distance two weeks ago.

The same owner’s Aslaan, trained by Helal Al Alawi, won his previous start, at Sharjah, a fortnight ago but was second behind Munaaf, also in he colours of Sheikh Mansour, when they clashed here at Al Ain over 1800m in March.

Trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi, Munaaf is having his first start since that victory.

The only Thoroughbred race is a maiden over 1800m and with the Satish Seemar yard going well, his local debutant Fivehundredmiles looks a leading player under Mullen.