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Eric Lemartinel and RB Rich Surprise Hoping to Paint Al Ain Mile Red and White

Al Ain Racecourse stages its penultimate meeting of the season on Friday, highlighted by the fourth running of the AED250,000 Al Ain Mile for Pure Arabians.

In each of the previous three years it is the red and white colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan that has emerged victorious.

Last year it was RB Rich Surprise, trained by Eric Lemartinel, who landed the spoils and he is back to defend his crown with Tadhg O’Shea on board.

The pair have had a successful partnership this season, with the horse’s two wins from five starts this campaign coming when ridden by the Champion jockey, Tadgh O’ Shea over 2200m on turf at Abu Dhabi.

“He is obviously proven under these conditions but stays further so hopefully there will be a good gallop,” said O’Shea. “I have enjoyed a bit of joy on him this season so, with luck, we will hopefully at least go close.”

Owner and trainer also combine with Hamza who looks a strong second string to their bow under Gerald Avranche, though five of his six victories have been achieved under O’Shea, including both his runs in 2017.

The main danger to Sheikh Khalifa’s dominance of the race would appear to be Sauternes Al Maury, trained by Doug Watson for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose retained jockey Jim Crowley will be in the saddle.

Having just his sixth career outing, all locally, both his victories have been achieved at Al Ain, most recently when demolishing ten rivals in a course and distance handicap in November.

He will find this a lot easier than the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 he contested on his most recent start in early January.

“This has been an obvious target for him as he seems to go particularly well at Al Ain,” said Watson. “He also has run his best races when fresh so the fact he has been off for just over two months should be in his favour. We hope he has a big chance.”

Another dropping significantly in grade is Burning Breeze who finished sixth, but made a gallant attempt to lead all the way in the 2000m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3. He was ahead of a quality field for 1700m on that occasion.

Helal Al Alawi’s charge makes his Al Ain debut this weekend, hoping for his first UAE victory at the tenth attempt, and has the benefit of apprentice George Buckell’s 1.5kg claim.

Al Alawi also saddles Aslaan, the mount of Richard Mullen and a winner of his first two starts this season, including over this track and trip.

However, he was well behind his stable companion last time in the concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Rashed Bouresly, normally associated with Thoroughbreds, is represented by Aziz Al Shahania, making only his second UAE appearance. He made his debut last Sunday while contesting the Group 1 Liwa Oasis just last Sunday where he was well beaten to finish seventh.

The nine year old has four career wins in Qatar, all on turf, while his best finish on dirt has been second, and that came in a maiden.

“He is a nice horse and we expect a big run from him,” said Bouresly.