O`Shea & Sheikh Down Bid for Al Ain Success Saturday

Al Asayl Saddles Three in Feature Race

A 1600m handicap is the feature at Al Ain on Saturday evening with only six declared, including three trained by Salem Al Ketbi for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, chooses to partner Sheikh Down on whom he won a 1600m handicap on the Abu Dhabi turf on his penultimate start, last March.

On that occasion he had a neck to spare over stable companion, Gali Rich, who is again in opposition. Royston Ffrench comes in for the spare ride with the yard’s third runner, Madjanthat, to be ridden by Richard Mullen.

“It was certainly not an easy choice,” explained O’Shea. “They are three nice horses and all have a chance. Sheikh Down has the benefit of a run under his belt this season and I have won four times on him in the past.

“Those two factors swayed the choice in his direction.”

Majed Al Jahouri saddles Ajjaj, making his dirt debut on only his second UAE start. The mount of Silvestre De Sousa, he remains a maiden after six starts.

Paul Hanagan, who returned to action after injury only last Sunday having been out since November, takes the ride on Aqmaar for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

He is trained by Musabah Al Muhairi whose horses have been in great form in recent weeks, although Hanagan’s mount was well beaten on his only previous dirt outing.

The field is completed by Safir Banuna with Harry Bentley in the saddle for trainer Ahmed Al Mehairbi who also owns the horse.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card is a 1000m handicap in which Al Muhairi saddles four of the 13 declared runners. Stable jockey, De Sousa, partners Conform With Fact, winner of a course and distance maiden two weeks ago.

Hanagan rides stable companion, Tagseed, owned by Sheikh Hamdan with French taking the mount on Sixty Minutes and the stable’s apprentice, George Buckell, aboard Daar Rashid.
Buckell won a 1200m handicap at Jebel Ali on Daar Rashid a fortnight ago.

O’Shea and Al Ketbi combine with Brazen, a horse who has arguably been a bit disappointing since arriving in the UAE and seeking a first local win at the 13th attempt.

“He has been working well,” said O’Shea. “We thought he would run better last time at Jebel Ali so we have put the blinkers back on and dropped him back to the minimum trip.”

Doug Watson, still buzzing after the victory of Faulkner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday, saddles Church Music under Pat Dobbs.

“We have put the blinkers on him,” said Watson. “This looks a good spot for him and hopefully he will run a big race.”

Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen, who combined to win the featured Group 2 opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on Thursday, are represented by Zalzilah who looks to hold a serious claim.

The race also features the return to action of the Rashed Bouresly-trained Star Crowned who has been off the track since March 2012. In his prime, he was a dual winner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival but has not won since February 2010.