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Mile Prep Highlights Re-scheduled Al Ain Meeting

The 1600m Al Ain Mile Prep, originally scheduled to be run at Al Ain’s abandoned meeting just under a fortnight ago, is now the highlight of Thursday’s meeting at the UAE’s newest racecourse.

Nine have been declared, including three by the very much in form Al Asayl-based Salem Al Ketbi, all owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Of the trio, stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, has elected to partner RB Smoking Rich with Shane Karlsson aboard Najm Alemarat and Richard Mullen on the yard’s third runner, Burj Khalifa.

“It was certainly not an easy choice,” explained O’Shea. “RB Smokin Rich won his only start to date on dirt and that was at Al Ain over 1400m. He has won twice over 1600m but both those wins were on the turf at Abu Dhabi and, on dirt, 1600m is as far as he would want to go.

“Najm Alemarat is having his first dirt start but works well enough on it and should handle the surface, whereas Burj Khalifa has won at Al Ain, over 2000m. The 1600m is his absolute minimum as he stays very well.

“All three have a chance in a decent little race.”

The weights are headed by Ghadeer, one of two in the race owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, he has to give weight to all his eight rivals and will be ridden by the owner’s second jockey, Dane O’Neill.

His first jockey, Paul Hanagan, rides Alameer, trained by Musabah Al Muhairi and who boasts a 50 per cent strike rate on dirt having won three of his six starts on the surface, all here at Al Ain.

The Majed Al Jahouri team have been in good form in recent weeks and he relies on Haajeb, sporting the colours of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Yet to win on dirt, after four attempts, he has only won once in 12 local starts but has faced some stiff tasks in the past.

He is the mount of Silvestre De Sousa who rode a double for owner and trainer at Abu Dhabi last Sunday, including Sha’Red in the Group 1 Liwa Oasis.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1400m handicap, has attracted the maximum field of 12 with four reserves hoping to take their chance should there be a non-runner.

The Doug Watson-trained Famous Warrior has been running well at Meydan, over further and, if able to get to the front, could be hard to peg back under Pat Dobbs. However, he is far from ideally drawn to execute that tactic in the widest gate of all, stall 12.

Stable companion Nathr is another to consider with Hanagan electing to ride him from three Sheikh Hamdan-owned runners.

With stable jockey, Wayne Smith, suspended, trainer Ismail Mohammed has secured the services of apprentice Marc Monaghan for Pollination. Winner of his only start in England, a 1400m on Polytrack at Wolverhampton, he made a promising local debut at Jebel Ali last month. If he can build on that, on only his third career start, he could be a big danger to all.

Adrie De Vries is an eye-catching jockey booking for Fawzi Nass who has secured the Dutchman to partner North Pole. They should be competitive, along with Black Snowflake, representing the Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen partnership.

De Sousa rides Initial for his main employer, Al Muhairi and they are also feared in a wide open contest.