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RB Goliath Stands Tall Among Six Contenders in Al Ain Friday Feature

Racing at Al Ain on Friday is highlighted by a 1600m handicap for which just seven have been declared but, looks ultra-competitive nonetheless.

Helal Al Alawi has his team in resurgent form following a quiet spell after a great start to the campaign. His RB Goliath, the mount of Pat Cosgrave, who has forged a powerful alliance with the trainer this season, could be the one to beat. Out of luck in three starts this season, he has won four times at Al Ain, twice over this 1600m course and distance and was also runner-up in the Al Ain Mile last March.

“He ran well last time, at Al Ain, over 2000m and the return to 1600m should suit him,” Al Alawi said. “We think he has a big chance on Friday and are very much looking forward to running him under what we believe to be his optimum conditions.”

Ibrahim Al Hadhrami saddles two, Jaser, yet to race on dirt and having just his second UAE outing, as well as local debutant, Kaisar. Both are unknown quantities under these conditions so AF Al Jahed may be a bigger danger. Homebred by champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, he won his penultimate start over 1600m on the Abu Dhabi turf and is also a course and distance winner having landed his maiden under these conditions in December 2016. Trained by Ernst Oertel, he is the mount of Antonio Fresu, who said: “Like most of the horses from the yard he has been in good form this season and hopefully has a big chance with plenty in his favour.”

Garnishh was a course and distance winner in a maiden two weeks ago and Sam Hitchcott again rides for Abdallah Al Hammadi.

“He has only had four starts and has yet to run a bad race,” Hitchcott said. “There may only be seven runners but it looks competitive. Hopefully my horse is improving and should be thereabouts.”

Tadhg O’Shea rides Mahfouz for the powerful Al Asayl team of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel. Mahfouz and O’Shea won The Ruler Of Sharjah Trophy over 1700m last year when chased home by AF Al Jahed. O’Shea said: “Conditions should suit him and he has been pleasing us at home. Hopefully he can be competitive, but it does look a strong race.”

The only Thoroughbred contest is a 2000m handicap in which Fresu again looks to hold strong claims, this time aboard Emirates Airline for Erwan Charpy. Second over course and distance on his penultimate start, he then filled the same position at Sharjah, over 1700m, staying on strongly both times. Fresu said: “He has been performing well, especially the last two times, and with a bit of luck in running, he should go close.”

Champion trainer, Doug Watson relies on Ballad Singer, a good 2000m winner on his penultimate start at Sharjah before disappointing at the same track over 1700m on his latest outing. Pat Dobbs rides. Watson said: “He just did not fire last time but, was badly drawn on that occasion which did not help his cause. He seems in good form and we are hoping for a big run in a competitive race.”

O’Shea partners Skygazer, a course and distance winner almost exactly two years ago for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

“We know conditions suit him,” O’Shea said. “He is not the easiest horse to predict, but hopefully if things fall right for him, he has a good chance.”

His stable companion, Watheeq, has achieved all three of his local victories over this 2000m trip, albeit at Sharjah and not since November 2015. He cannot be discounted, along with the Satish Seemar-trained duo of Broadcloth and Unite The Clans.