16 February 2018, Al Ain, UAE ~ Friday’s meet at Al Ain Racecourse was highlighted by Round 3 of the Al Ain Marathon Series, a 4100m handicap, in which just six took their chance. Ultimately it turned into a procession by Ajjaj, under a masterful ride from Adrie de Vries.
With none of his five rivals wanting to make the running, the Dutchman allowed the 7-year-old chestnut by Tahar De Candelon to stride on, setting a modest gallop for the first 2000m. Suddenly, entering the back straight, Ajjaj had stolen a ten length advantage and his rivals started to react, closing up by the time the field entered the home turn. Leaving that home bend, Ajjaj had again opened up a decisive advantage that he was not looking to relinquish.
First past the post on his previous two starts, for a different trainer, but subsequently disqualified after testing positive for a prohbited substance, he was having his first start for Jean de Roualle, who also saddled runner-up Shamikh Al Wathba. Both horses are owned by Yas Horse Racing Management.
“To saddle first and second for His Highness Sheikh Mansour and Yas Horse Racing in the big race is a great result,” De Roualle said. “Adrie has given the winner a perfect ride and he will be back for the final round over 5100m as will the runner-up. Shamikh Al Wathba has stayed on well and I imagine we will ride him closer to the pace next time but I am indebted to His Highness for this opportunity and very lucky to have such a good job.”
Earlier, the maximum field of 15 went to post for the 1400m maiden, but from a long way out the identity of the winner was clear with Richard Mullen always looking supremely confident on Mulheim(Bibi De Carrere). They won by a staggering 22 lengths, initiating a double for Yas Horse Racing Management.
“Sam Hitchcott actually rode him last time over 1000m and said he was a nice horse who would be better over this trip,” Mullen said. “In fairness to the trainer, he was pretty confident, but I must admit the horse has certainly exceeded my expectations but everything went smoothly. It was only his second dirt start but he seems a natural on the surface and should stay 1600m but perhaps not much further.”
Jockey and trainer completed a double when Hamares (Bibi De Carrere) flashed home to lead right on the line in a 1600m conditions race. Owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Hamares was also having his first start for Al Alawi, though, in case, was doubling his career tally having also won an 1800m Al Ain maiden in December 2016.
“It has been a good evening and it is a privilege to train these horses for Sheikh Mansour and Yas Horse Racing,” Al Alawi said. “Both our winners had been working well and we thought had decent chances, so to see them both win is fantastic.”
De Sousa gained quick revenge on Mullen in the following 2000m maiden, the only Thoroughbred race on the card, which they had between themselves from a long way out. The pair swept to the front leaving the home turn, with De Sousa-piloted Immortalised stalked by Mullen on stable companion Broadcloth. The former ultimately found more, in doing so becoming a first UAE winner for Frankel. Both are prepared by Satish Seemar.
Tadhg O’Shea picked the right one from two Al Asayl runners in the 1800m maiden, landing the spoils aboard Asyad with stable companion Mushrif looking the main danger with 300m to run. Asyad pulled away as Safrin Al Reef closed in for second with Mushrif and Gerald Avranche closing late on to secure third.
Both the winner and third are trained by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and O’Shea said: “We thought both ours would run well but Asyad is a very consistent filly who travels well but is still learning; she was having a really good look at the crowd cheering her from about 300m out.
“In fairness though, I think she had plenty left because when the other pair threatened to challenge her she responded. She deserved to win one and, now she has, we hope she can do so again.”
Only seven lined up in the following 1800m handicap and connections were celebrating a rapid double with O’Shea driving Mukaram (TH Richie) to a fourth consecutive victory, on just his sixth racecourse appearance for trainer Lemartinel.
The opening 1400m handicap was won in determined fashion by AF Tebyan (AF AL Buraq), leading throughout the first half of the race under Antonio Fresu before being headed 500m out by ES Maydan and ultimately regaining initiative to win gamely. Trained by Ernst Oertel for Champion Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the mare was doubling her career tally, on her tenth start, having previously won a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden in November 2016.