February 28, 2014, Al Ain, UAE ~ The second meeting at the new Al Ain Racetrack had as highlight a 1600m conditions race and it was déjà vu thanks to the victory of Bigg N Rich, winner of an identical race at the track’s first meeting four weeks ago.
Trained by Abu Dhabi-based Eric Lemartinel, Bigg N Rich (FALINA DES FABRIES (FR) x Viraac (US) by Virgule Al Maury) was settled just off the pace by James Doyle and, as they were at the first meeting, the pair could be seen to be well in control at the top of the long straight. Doyle was happy to wait until the 300m pole before easing his mount to the front and the pair recorded a smooth victory over second Richlore by 1/2 length.
Doyle said: “He is a good horse who clearly loves these all-weather surfaces – he won at Meydan on all-weather earlier this year – but he must be versatile as he has won on dirt and turf as well.”
Trainer Lemartinel went on to complete a double with apprentice Noel Garbutt aboardSimbar Du Loup (Akbar (FR) – Kenza Lotoise (FR) by Dormane) recording the win for owner Khalid Al Nabooda in the concluding 2600m handicap, following up their Abu Dhabi success of last Sunday.
The only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap, was won in style by local debutant Jeeran, ridden by Paul Hanagan for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trained by Doug Watson.
Seemingly outpaced in the early stages behind a strong early gallop, Hanagan’s mount ran on well in the straight to lead 100m out.
The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden and former UAE Champion Jockey Wayne Smith, who was injured and missed the first meeting four weeks ago, made a winning start to his Al Ain career, landing the spoils on SNS Nujood (MADJANI (FR) – Radwa De Faust (FR) by AL SAKBE).
Trained by Saifaldin Deeb, the filly was losing her maiden tag at the fifth attempt. Smith said: “This track is a great addition to the UAE racing scene. I rode a few trials here last year and was impressed and it has improved since then and will continue to do so.”
The following 1400m handicap was won by AF Shbas (AL KESBE (FR) x SAMBAA (FR) by Samsun (US), trained by Helal Al Alawi and who made virtually every yard of the running under Dane O’Neill. Having set a steady gallop in the first half of the race, O’Neill committed for home as they entered the straight and the pair fought off challenges from AF Tharb and eventual runner-up Kao Kat Mhf.
O’Neill said: “She enjoyed herself out in front and responded well when I asked her. She was then determined in the closing stages and held on well.”
Arguably the easiest winner of the afternoon was Memati Bash in a 1900m maiden, a second winner on the card for Al Alawi with Xavier Ziani in the saddle on this occasion. As was the case with AF Shbas, Ziani’s mount led very early on, went clear about 500m out and was never going to be caught.
By the time they crossed the line, Memati Bash (NEZ D’OR (FR) x Arabesque Safinat (FR) by Kesberoy) and Ziani had a ten length advantage over runner-up AL Amakin who tried to challenge the winner throughout the first 1400m but was outpaced throughout the course but held on gamely to finish second.