News

Al Ketbi-Trained Mile 1-2 Brings Al Ain Season to a Close

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Al Ain Racecourse’s final meeting of the season on Thursday afternoon was highlighted by the AED250,000 Al Ain Mile with Salem Al Ketbi saddling the first two home in the 1600m feature for which only five went to post.

Shane Karlsson was aboard the winner, Najm Alemarat on whom he had won the course and distance prep two weeks earlier. Karlsson was soon at the head of affairs before Alameer, second in the prep took over at halfway.

He was eased out of the race though just before the home turn and Najm Alemarat was able to regain the initiative. Stable companion, RB Smokin Rich and Tadhg O’Shea loomed as the main danger but were unable to pass the stable mate.

“He dug deep for me in the closing 300m,” said Karlsson. “It is great to be given this kind of opportunity and to win the biggest race of the season here at Al Ain is brilliant.”

The fixture also included the concluding rounds of the Al Ain Sprint Championship, a 1000m dash, as well as the Al Ain Marathon Series, over a mammoth 5100m and thus the longest flat race ever staged in the UAE

Al Ketbi and his Al Asayl team also supplied the first two home in the final race of the Marathon Series, over no less than 5100m. This time it was Royston Ffrench aboard the winner, Burj Khalifa who denied stable companion Munzade and Oisin Murphy in a real war of attrition.

“Obviously it was an unknown trip for all of us, jockeys and trainers alike,” said Ffrench. “My fellow is definitely more of a stayer than a speed horse as he has shown here.

“He was brave and really knuckled down when I needed him to.”

The Thoroughbred equivalent of the Al Ain Mile was turned into a procession by Ghaamer, a 1600m all-weather handicap winner on the same card last year for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

Drawn wide, he broke well under Ffrench and the pair were soon bowling along in front. At the top of the straight Ffrench, initiating a double had his 10 rivals in trouble and the pair skipped clear to post an easy victory.

“He loves to be out in front,” said Ffrench. “Once I was able to get across to the rail I always knew I had plenty of horse left underneath me and he put the race to bed a long way out.”

The 1000m concluding round of the sprint series was won by Ain Jaloot, recording a sixth success from his seven most recent outings having been placed superbly by his trainer Eric Lemartinel.

Wayne Smith was in the saddle on this occasion, replacing Gerald Avranche who had been aboard for the horse’s five previous wins. It was a first win on dirt for the much improved Lemartinel inmate.

“Eric has done so well with this horse,” said Smith. “As would expect they went pretty hard up front and I was happy to take my time. He has such a high cruising speed I was always pretty confident and he did it nicely.”

The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden with Ajjaj given a positive winning ride by Silvestre De Sousa, riding for Majed Al Jahouri in the colours of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayhan.

Having his fourth start this month, De Sousa’s mount had been second and third on his previous two, both at Al Ain. He was dropping in trip on this occasion which suited him and he opened his account at the 12th attempt.

“He was caught over 2000m last week,” said De Sousa. “Over this trip the plan was always to race handily and he has won nicely.”

Jockey Oisin Murphy is finishing the season with a flourish and was able to drive HK Hayzoom to lead close home in a 2000m handicap. Trained by Saifaldin Deeb, the horse has won both his dirt outings having won a maiden over 1600m at Al Ain two weeks earlier.

Ahead 300m from home, Murphy’s mount was headed briefly in the final 100m by MH Areeb, only to regaining the initiative where it mattered.

“He stuck his head out when the other horse went past,” said Murphy. “It is only his third career start and he should be capable of improving with experience.”

The final race of the Al Ain season, a 1600m maiden, went the way of AF Al Fareed, ridden by Noel Garbutt for trainer Ahmed Al Shamshi.