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Fityaan Dominates at Jebel Ali Season Opener

Jockey O`Neill Surges To Early Winning Double

The featured 1000m handicap at Jebel Ali’s opening meeting of the UAE season on Friday afternoon looked competitive on paper but was turned into something of a procession by Fityaan, owned by the race sponsor, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Twice runner-up in the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint over the same course and distance, the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained sprinter recorded an easy victory, his second in the UAE after a Meydan turf win in the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

“He was not the best away which was not particularly the plan,” said O’Neill. “But we were always going well and at no stage in the race was I particularly worried.

“I only arrived back in the UAE yesterday so this is a great start to the season for me.

“This horse has run well at Jebel Ali in the past and deserved to get his head in front here finally.

“We have some lovely horses to look forward to this season and I am really looking forward to it.”

The jockey was to complete a double with the victory of the same owner’s Kahruman, trained by Erwan Charpy, in the concluding 1400m handicap. “The horse has run plenty of good races in defeat,” said O’Neill. “It is great he has managed to win again and for the first time locally.”

Earlier, reigning Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea made the perfect start to the season when making virtually all the running in the opening 1950m handicap on the Doug Watson-trained Mizbah.

The horse was having his first start for new connections. Afterwards O’Shea explained: “I only have two rides in the end today as my second planned ride is a non-runner so that is the best possible start. I actually rode this horse for his previous connections at Meydan last season and he has clearly handled the dirt well today.

“He had very little weight on his back but it would be nice to think he can build on this.”

In doing so, O`Shea denied the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Street Act and stable jockey Royston Ffrench the accolade of winning the first race of the season two years running with Ffrench’s mount staying on in second.

However, Al Raihe and Ffrench wasted little time opening their seasonal account and combined to land the following 1600m handicap with Need To Know, registering a third Jebel Ali victory in the process.

Having his first start since finishing runner-up in China in April, Ffrench’s mount hit the front about 300m out and won comfortably.

“We were pretty confident coming into the race,” said Ffrench. “This horse is very versatile and won here last season, as well as at Al Ain and was then second in China.

“We would have been disappointed if he did not go close today.”

Trainer Mohammed Ramadan made a great start to his season with Carlos Sanchez steering Marhi to a pillar to post victory in the 1000m maiden before Glenleven was an impressive winner of the 1200m handicap with Richard Mullen in the saddle for his main employer, trainer Satish Seemar.