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Sniper Hits National Day Target at Al Ain

Sniper De Monlau wins the feature
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Helal Al Alawi Saddles Winner in Inaugural National Day Race

Jockey Royston Ffrench earned his riding fee aboard Sniper De Monlau on Saturday evening, when the Helal Al Alawi-trained Purebred Arabian was victorious in the inaugural running of Al Ain’s National Day Cup.

A conditions contest over 1800m, Ffrench’s mount was slowly away and soon trailing his seven rivals prompting his jockey to get busy in the saddle almost immediately.

Making his dirt debut on just his sixth career outing, Sniper De Monlau did not appear happy until he was switched wide by Ffrench at the halfway mark.

Taking the home turn on the outside of the field, Sniper De Monlau finally knuckled down in the straight, hitting the front 200m from home and staying on powerfully to deny Faucon Du Loup who had led from the top of the straight under Richard Mullen.

“The trainer and his team have done a magnificent job with this horse who is very talented but can be quirky,” said Ffrench.

“He won two of his five races last season and should probably have won at least two more but kept drifting right across the track at Abu Dhabi.

“He is a very good, young horse who, hopefully, can build on this and it is great to win such a valuable prize.”

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan supplied both the first and second in a 2000m handicap with local apprentice, Saeed Al Mazrooei, aboard the winner, Ajjaj, trained by Majed Al Jahouri.

They ran on far too strongly for Harry Bentley and the Ahmed Al Mehairbi-trained Munaaf.

Winning in style, Ajjaj was doubling his career win tally on his 19th start. “He won what appeared a competitive race in good style,” said Al Mazrooei. “This trip really seems to suit him and he was running on strongly at the end.”

The opening 2000m maiden was won emphatically by Babel D’Aillas, trained on the Al Ain track by Modh Ramadan.

Having his 15th career start and eighth outing on dirt, he was always travelling well under O’Shea who eased him into contention behind leaders Cristal Des Vialettes and Akbar Du Berlais.

They had no answer when O’Shea took his mount to the front, traveling strongly, halfway up the straight before powering clear in the final 200m.

“He has done that nicely enough,” said O’Shea. “It is always nice to ride a winner for Mohd Ramadan who is such an enthusiastic trainer.”

The trainer looked set to complete a double when Paolo Sirigu produced his Ubu Al Mels to lead close home in a 1000m handicap, only to be thwarted in the dying strides by George Buckell and RB Goliath.

However it was a winning double for trainer Al Alawi who said: “It has been a very good evening indeed.”

The finale, a 2600m handicap, was round 1 Of The Al Ain Marathon Series and O’Shea bookended the card with victory aboard Sheikh Down, denying Ffrench a double aboard Aslaan.

Trained by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Down looked likely to win easily at the top of the straight but, ultimately, was forced to dig deep against an improving rival.

Despite a less than ideal wide draw, Richard Mullen was keen to get to the front on the Ernst Oertel-trained AF Al Jahed and the pair were never headed in a 1600m maiden, ultimately winning easily.

Unplaced in any of his three previous outings, Mullen’s mount was far too good on this occasion and appears to be improving.

Mullen is stable jockey for Satish Seemar whose yard apprentice, Cameron Noble rode his first local winner with the thrilling victory of the veteran, Montmorency in a 1000m handicap, the only Thoroughbred race on the card.

Most of the field held a chance approaching the final 400m and it was soon after the ten-year-old Montmorency hit the front.
He responded gamely to Noble’s urgings, holding on from a host of challengers, headed by Intermedium.

“It has taken a while to get off the mark but this is a grand old horse who really fought well for me,” said Noble. “It was a bit rough early on but once we found racing room it went quite smoothly. Obviously I am grateful to Mr Seemar and the owner for this opportunity.”

Seemar’s charge was recording his sixth UAE victory but first since March 2012.