Najem S`Heel and Tadhg O`Shea Claim Opening Sprint Series Round at Al Ain

Zeyad wins First Round of Marathon Series. Photo: Erika Rasmussen (

Track Stages First Round of Marathon Series

The opening round of the Al Ain Sprint series went down to champion jockey, Tadhg O`Shea on Najem S`Heel.

It was a busy afternoon at Al Ain, with the first leg of Al Ain Marathon Series as well as the Al Ain sprint taking centre stage.

Trainer Saifaldin Deeb was responsible for the winner, a 1000m victor on the Abu Dhabi turf on his previous start. Najem S`Heel chased the speed until halfway before being sent to the front entering the final 200m.

He ran on strongly to post a comfortable success.

“I knew my horse had plenty of pace,” said O’Shea. “On the official ratings he had plenty to find but the 1000m dash and dirt really suited him.”

O’Shea was completing a double having already won on Mazaha.
Runner-up on her previous start, in a 1400m course maiden, the Helal Al Alawi-trained runner went one better and opened her account at the tenth attempt in a 1600m conditions event.

Last at halfway, O’Shea was soon pushing his mount along but she responded well, keeping on strongly and hitting the front 100m out, denying AF Asefah.

“She showed last time she handles this surface,” said O’Shea.
“The extra 200m today has suited her and she ran all the way to the line.”

The main support race, a 2600m handicap and the opening leg of The Al Ain Marathon Series, was won impressively by Zeyad winning his second consecutive race having opened his account in an 1800m course handicap three weeks ago.

Settled in midfield by Royston Ffrench, the pair chased the leaders entering the long straight before easing to the front 300m out and running on far too strongly for seven toiling rivals.

“He won well last time and should probably have won his previous start, said Ffrench. “He clearly stays very well and is going the right way – it was only his seventh start.”

He is trained by Ibrahim al Hadhrami and connections were completing a double having already combined to win the opening 1800m maiden with AL Mukafih landing the spoils for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami.

Never far off the pace, Ffrench sent his mount to the front about halfway and they opened up a decent lead at the top of the straight.

The Secret loomed large as a danger and headed Ffrench’s mount briefly but AL Mukafih was not to be denied, leading again close home.

“That was his first start on dirt and only fourth career outing, said Ffrench. “He has handled the surface well and was very game. He should improve.

The ever powerful Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen combination paired up to land the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap., with Shihab, winning for the first time locally at the ninth attempt.

Produced to lead close home, it was also the horse’s first win since scoring on his racecourse debut in England.

“The horse deserved a win having finished second on his two most recent starts.”

The Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Alameer recorded his second career victory when winning a 1400m handicap under Dane O’Neill, riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

A 1400m maiden winner on his penultimate start, also at Al Ain, he was ridden confidently by O’Neill just off the pace.

“I was getting a lovely lead throughout the early stages and was always happy,” said O’Neill. “We know he stays further so he was always going to run all the way to the line.

“With luck he has more to offer as he has not had much racing.