Derby Winner AF Taraha Star of Double for Oertel

The 1800m Al Ain Derby was the official feature at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday and went the way of AF Taraha, trained by Ernst Oertel and ridden by Antonio Fresu.

Having just her second career start, AF Taraha had been well beaten on debut, in a 1400m turf maiden at Abu Dhabi, but clearly relished the switch of surface and extra distance.

“We really like this filly and were disappointed with her first effort when we expected a lot more,” said Oertel, who was completing a double.

“This race looked a good chance to get her back out and she has won nicely.
“She is definitely one of our best fillies and hopefully has a bright future so we will probably give her just one more outing this season and bring her back for the next campaign.”

The 1400m maiden was won easily by the Oertel-trained AF Tathoor who was never headed under Richard Mullen.

Third in a 1000m maiden on her one previous racecourse appearance, she had shown plenty of speed on that occasion but clearly appreciated the extra 400m here and had the race in safe keeping fully 300m from home.

“She ran well the first day and learned a lot,” said Mullen. “The plan was always to be positive on her today and she did it well.”

Both the Oertel winners are homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.

The main support race was a 1600m conditions contest and it was Fresu’s turn to complete a double, making all on Storm Troupour for Beverley Deutrom.

Having just his third UAE outing, he won in style and looks the type to build on this performance.

“The instructions were to be positive on him and he really enjoyed himself out in front, said Fresu. “He has handled the dirt well and I think there is improvement to come from him.”

The only Thoroughbred race was a 1600m handicap and another of several easy winners on the afternoon was the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Street Act under Tadhg O’Shea.

Drawn widest of all in 15, O’Shea allowed him to keep outside the majority of the field and, turning for home, they started to make smooth progress down the nearside of the field.

They surged to the head of affairs with just less than 400m to run and were never in any danger of being caught.
“He is a grand old campaigner,” said O’Shea. “We thought he might win one early season but he did not so we gave him a break and freshened him up.

“He needed his run at Jebel Ali last week and actually won pretty comfortably today.”

The opening 1400m handicap was won easily by the Helal Al Alawi-trained Boss Des Vialettes but it looked most unlikely turning for home when he only had two of the 15 runners behind him.

However, when pulled out by George Buckell, he produced a devastating finish down the outside, hitting the front 100m out and scorching clear.

“It was hard work out there and he was slow to get going early on,” said Buckell. “They went pretty quick up front though and, once I switched him out of traffic and asked him to chase, he really quickened nicely.

“He is a horse with ability as he showed today and everything fell nicely for him in the end.”

The trainer, who was not present as he is in Qatar preparing stable star, Sniper De Monlau for his big race engagement tomorrow, completed a double with the smooth success of Al Gassimi in a maiden over 1800m.

Having his eighth career outing, he was drawn high and jockey, Pat Cosgrave, seemed happy to stay wide on him and the pair cruised into contention as the field entered the straight.

He was patient and only asked his mount to go to the front at the 200m pole and, once in front, the race was over as a contest.

“He was a good second over 1600m last time but has stayed this trip well,” said Cosgrave.

The meeting concluded with a 1000m handicap, dominated by Eric Lemartinel who saddled both first and second. Seeking a double, O’Shea tried to make all on Joori and it looked likely until he was caught, in the final strides, by stable companion, Al Yazi, a first UAE winner for apprentice Nicolas Barzalona.