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Ajraam Bids for Double Glory at Meydan

Ajraam at Meydan
Photo: Erika Rasmussen
(www.erikarphotography.com)

Course and Distance Winner Seeks to Build on First Meeting Victory

Dubai Racing Club stages its second meeting of the season at Meydan tomorrow (Thursday) and a pair of AED165,000 handicaps, the first over 1200m and a later one over 1600m, share feature status.

A select field of six have been declared for the 1200m handicap and a case can be made for each member of the sextet, half of whom are owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The owner, responsible for no less than five of the seven Thoroughbred winners in the UAE last week, appears to have the horse the others have to beat in the shape of Ajraam and his retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, chooses to ride.

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, Ajraam and O’Neill won over course and distance two weeks ago.

The five-year-old bay was quite impressive on that occasion and does not appear to have been overburdened by the handicapper. In fact, he remains on a lower rating than the one from which he managed to win a turf handicap at Thirsk, in England, in June 2013.

His recent victory was his first since and, now he has put his head back in front, he could build on the success.

“He did it well enough at the last meeting,” said O’Neill. “He ran some good races in defeat last season and deserved a win. Hopefully he can follow up.”

Stable companion Ebn Arab, represents Sheikh Hamdan with stable jockey, Fernando Jara, in the saddle.

He has not won since May 2013, when beating three rivals at Doncaster, but does receive weight from all five opponents.

He has yet to fire in four previous dirt outings but does go well fresh and looks well treated if able to produce something like his best on this surface.

Sheikh Hamdan’s third runner, Tamaathul, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, was well beaten by Ajraam at the first Meydan fixture but lost all chance with a slow start.

He ran as well as could be expected in the circumstances and has the assistance of stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

“He actually ran well last time,” said O’Shea. “Having missed the break he did well to get involved and has been through the gates at home with no problems since.
“His work has been good and he should run well.”

Al Raihe also saddles Not A Given, making his seasonal debut over a trip he has yet to win and looks on the sharp side for him.

Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen won a lesser 1200m handicap on this card last year, with subsequent Dubai World Cup Carnival winner Price Is Truth, and combine here with Merhee.

The seven-year-old is having his first start for the yard, having previously been trained by Mike de Kock and is another who needs to prove himself effective on the dirt.

“It is his first start for us but we are very pleased with his work on the sand at home,” said assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar. “He will improve for the run but is as fit as we can get him at home.”

The Doug Watson-trained My Catch completes the field and is making his dirt debut.

“If he handles the dirt he will run a big race,” said Watson. “He works well on it at home.
“He had the summer off and has thrived for it.”

The equally valuable 1600m handicap has attracted a field of seven and the Seemar/Mullen combination team up with a fascinating contender in the form of Last Fighter.

Off the track for 1,020 days, he only had five career starts when with Godolphin but looked very promising, winning twice and finishing second on the other three occasions.

A dirt debutant, he is surely one to keep a close eye on.

“He has obviously been off a long time and will come on for the run,” said Bhupat. “He has been with us for about two years and has had a succession of small problems, nothing major.

“It will be nice to get him to a race and see how he goes.”

Al Raihe and O’Shea combine with Need To Know, a disappointing sixth in this same race last year but a good second at Jebel Ali last week.

“It was a good run on Friday,” said O’Shea. “The winner looked good but we were well clear of the rest. He does have to give weight away but is in great shape.”

The Watson-trained One Man Band has won twice over course and distance but failed to fire under these conditions a fortnight ago.

He is joined by stable companion, Grand Argentier, making his local debut and a young horse connections will hope develops into a Dubai World Cup Carnival contender.

“One Man Band probably needed the run more than we thought first time,” said Watson. “He should strip fitter this week.

“Grand Argentier is a nice new, young horse. He trains well on dirt but we need to see how he handles it in a race.”

The 1600m handicap the Al Muhairi-trained Muhtaram won on this night 12 months ago was a far weaker affair than this but he is race fit.

Faced with his optimum conditions, he looks a big threat under Jara.

With the meeting generously sponsored by Gulf News, it remains to be seen just who will be creating the Meydan headlines on Thursday evening.

Racecards can be viewed at www.emiratesracing.com

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