Al Ain Sprint Series Headlines Friday Meeting

Silvestre De Sousa Booked for Local Debutant, Alize

Friday’s Al Ain meeting is highlighted by a 1000m conditions race, the first leg of the new Al Ain Sprint Series and for which a field of seven have been declared, including local debutant, Alize for whom Silvestre De Sousa is an eye-catching jockey booking.

Trained by Saifaldin Deeb, De Sousa’s mount landed one of his five starts in his native France, but that was over 1900m and this will be his first start over the 1000m minimum trip as well as his first start on dirt.

Stable companion, Najem S’Heel has won twice over the trip, on turf at Abu Dhabi and also has two Sharjah dirt victories to his name over 1200m. Tadhg O’Shea rides but, on official ratings, the pair have a lot to find.

HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is responsible for three of the seven runners with Sha’Red set to carry the first silks under Pat Dobbs for trainer, Yousef Al Bloushi. He has at least won over 1000m, sharing the spoils in a Group 3 contest on the Abu Dhabi turf in February.

“He has plenty of pace,” said Dobbs. “If he handles the dirt he should have a big chance.”

The owner’s second runner, Shateh, is trained by Majed Al Jahouri and the mount of apprentice, Saeed Al Mazrouei who partnered him to victory in a 1600m conditions race on the Abu Dhabi turf just over four weeks ago.

Al Jahouri also saddles the same owner’s Laamma, having his first outing on dirt and at 1000m. The mount of Royston Ffrench, he has shown plenty of dash on most of his starts so looks worth this try at sprinting.

“Both should run well,” said Al Jahouri. “Saeed gets on well with Shateh and his apprentice claim can only help his chance.

“Laamma has plenty of pace and will hopefully handle the dirt.”

TM Super Bird is a fascinating contender for trainer Omar Daraj on her fifth UAE outing but first on dirt since arriving from her native America where she was a winner 11 times on the surface.

Two of those victories were in Grade Three contests and she likes to race prominently so is another who may appreciate this drop in distance with Oisin Murphy in the saddle.

The second and third rounds of the Al Ain Sprint Series are set to take place on January 30 and March 19 respectively.

It is also the first leg of the Al Ain Marathon Series and eight are set to face the starter in a 2600m handicap. The Eric Lemarinel-trained Mandragore Al Maury has at least been placed over the distance, on turf in England and should make a bold bid despite giving weight to her seven rivals. Wayne Smith takes the ride.

“We know she stays the trip, which is obviously a bonus,” said Smith. “The Lemartinel horses are starting to hit form and I am expecting a big effort but she does have a big weight with 60kg over such a long trip.”

Thirteen are due to go to post for the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap with recent 1400m course winners, Maltese Cat and Beachy Head set to clash.

The latter, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe and the mount of Ffrench is having only his third start having won a maiden three weeks ago, while the former, the mount of De Sousa, won a handicap here four weeks ago for Musabah A Muhairi.