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Al Ain Stayers` Trophy Plays to Balad`s Tune

Balad Al Reef (near side) wins the stayers race
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

The Al Ain Stayers’ Trophy, a handicap over 4100m and the third round of the Al Ain Marathon Series, was the feature on Saturday afternoon’s Al Ain card and round two winner, Balad Al Reef, landed the spoils in style.

Ridded by Fernando Jara for trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi, the winner made smooth progress entering the final 1200m and, once hitting the front fully 900m from home, always looked the likely winner, despite drifting markedly in the final 300m.

“I was very confident before the race,” said Jara. “This horse is better the further he goes and stamina is his forte.

“He has done that well and these staying races are ideal for him.

Jockey, trainer and owner, Al Ajban Stables, were celebrating a double having already combined to land a 1600m maiden with Aasal Al Reef.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card was the opening 2000m maiden and won, in style, by the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Secret Trade, the mount of Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

Settled in the middle of the pack, the pair made smooth progress as the runners turned into the straight before hitting the front just over 200m out, after which the race was in safe keeping.

“He did that very well today,” said O’Shea. “Hopefully he can build on this as it was a good effort.

An hour later, O’Shea was celebrating a double after Darius Du Paon was victorious in an 1800m handicap.

Riding for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan and trainer Eric Lemartinel, O’Shea was never far off the pace and once ahead, never looked likely to be beaten.

Trainer Elise Jeanne is enjoying a great season, obviously highlighted by the recent success of Faucon Du Loup in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 two weeks ago.

That big race winner was ridden by Richard Mullen, as was MH Areeb who was forced to dig deep to land the spoils in a handicap over 1800m, the horse recording his fourth win of the season in the process.

“We were a bit worried about the trip being too far but he has won over 1700m at Sharjah,” said Jeanne. “He is a real character who thrives on racing and loves winning; when he does not he is grumpy at home!”

The 1600m handicap was won in style by RB Goliath who, under a confident Royston Ffrench, was never headed in a 1600m handicap.

The meeting concluded with a 1400m maiden, won by Pat Dobbs aboard Algharbi, trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi.