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Bigg N Rich Banks Feature Race at Al Ain

Bigg N Rich (US)
Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Lemartinel in Double Form at Second Meeting

The second ever meeting at Al Ain on Friday afternoon was highlighted by a 1600m conditions race and there was a definite case of déjà vu thanks to the victory of Bigg N Rich, winner of an identical race at the track’s first meeting four weeks ago.

Trained by Abu Dhabi-based Eric Lemartinel, Bigg N Rich was settled just off the pace by James Doyle and, as they were at the first meeting, the pair could be seen to be well in control at the top of the long straight.

Doyle was, again, happy to wait until about the 300m pole before easing his mount to the front and the pair recorded a smooth victory.

Doyle said: “He is a good horse who clearly loves these all-weather surfaces – he won at Meydan on all-weather earlier this year – but he must be versatile as he has won on dirt and turf as well.

“I was always going well again today and he did it nicely.”

Trainer Lemartinel went on to complete a double with apprentice Noel Garbutt aboard Simbar Du Loup, winner of the concluding 2600m handicap, following up their Abu Dhabi success of last Sunday.

The only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap, was won in style by local debutant Jeeran, ridden by Paul Hanagan for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trained by Doug Watson.

Seemingly outpaced in the early stages behind a strong early gallop, Hanagan’s mount ran on well in the straight to lead 100m out.

Watson said: “Stamina really seems to be his forte and this 1600m would be his minimum trip. There is another race for him back here at Al Ain later in the season and he clearly relished the surface.

“A step up in trip will certainly suit him in time and he is a nice new recruit and a horse we really like.”

The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden and former UAE Champion Jockey Wayne Smith, who was injured and missed the first meeting four weeks ago, made a winning start to his Al Ain career, landing the spoils on SNS Nujood.

Trained by Saifaldin Deeb, the filly was losing her maiden tag at the fifth attempt. Smith said: “This track is a great addition to the UAE racing scene. I rode a few trials here last year and was impressed and it has improved since then and will continue to do so.”

The following 1400m handicap was won by AF Shbas, trained by Helal Al Alawi and who made virtually every yard of the running under Dane O’Neill. Having set a steady gallop in the first half of the race, O’Neill committed for home as they entered the straight and the pair fought offchallenges from AF Tharb and eventual runner-up Kao Kat Mhf.

O’Neill said: “She enjoyed herself out in front and responded well when I asked her. She was then determined in the closing stages and held on well.”

Arguably the easiest winner of the afternoon was Memati Bash in a 1900m maiden, a second winner on the card for Al Alawi with Xavier Ziani in the saddle on this occasion. As was the case with AF Shbas, Ziani’s mount led very early on, went clear about 500m out and was never going to be caught.

By the time they crossed the line, Memati Bash and Ziani had a ten length advantage over runner-up AL Amakin who tried to challenge the winner throughout the first 1400m but was outpaced throughout the course of the long straight, before plugging on gamely to hold second.