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AF Ssayeb Lead`s Ernst Oertel`s Four in Al Ain Feature

Another busy weekend of racing in the UAE continues at Al Ain on Saturday with a seven race card, highlighted by a 1000m handicap in which AF Ssayeb is bidding for a quick return to the winner’s enclosure having won over 1200m on the Abu Dhabi turf just last Sunday. Homebred by Champion Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, and trained by Ernst Oertel, he was never headed on that occasion under Silvestre de Sousa who is again in the saddle on Saturday. Straight after that victory his trainer nominated this race as his next target and his charge has won on dirt, over 1200m at Sharjah, as well as over this minimum trip, at Abu Dhabi.

De Sousa said: “That was the first time I had ridden the horse last week and I was impressed; he has plenty of natural speed and should cope with the shorter trip. The trainer seems confident the surface will not be a problem so we have to be hopeful.”

Owner and trainer actually have four in the race with the booking of Antonio Fresu for AF Mukhifah suggesting she is a big danger to her stable companion. An impressive course and distance victor on her penultimate start, when never headed under Fresu, she seemed to find the 1400m at Abu Dhabi too far on her latest outing. Fresu said: “She showed a lot of speed to win at Al Ain early last month and should run a big race.”

Twice this season, including over this track and trip in November, Fresu’s mount had chased home Extra Hope, trained by Satish Seemar for Ali Haddad and the mount of Richard Mullen. The second occasion was over 1200m at Abu Dhabi before she also seemed to find the 1400m too far in the capital when finishing third early last month. “We know conditions suit her and the horses are running well,” said Mullen. “It is a decent little race but she must have a good chance.”

From three runners trained at Al Asayl by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Tadhg O’Shea has elected to ride Joori, a 1200m winner at Sharjah on her latest outing, a fortnight ago.

The same connections combine with Meydan Du Paon in a 2000m conditions race but, unfortunately, reigning Champion Jockey, Mullen, appeared to hold serious claims, this time on Hamares. Owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he is trained by Saifaldin Deeb and seeking a second career victory, his sole previous one having been registered in an Al Ain maiden, over 1800m, in December 2015. However, he has been declared a non runner. He was off the track for a year before joining Deeb this season for whom he has been running well, on both turf and dirt. This looked to be his easiest opportunity of the campaign thus far.

Al Nabooda and Oertel combine with AF Al Baher, the mount of Antonio Fresu , AF Al Baher, is seeking a second career victory having won just once over 1800m here at Al Ain last February in a maiden.

The only Thoroughbred contest is a 1400m handicap which appears wide open. Logistics, a 1400m Jebel Ali winner in December for Helal Al Alawi and Pat Cosgrave looks a major player in a very winnable race. Seemar and Mullen combine with Sky Jockey, who certainly cannot be ruled out, along with Dougal whose trainer Rashed Bouresly has really hit form in the last few weeks.