30 January 2016 Al Ain, UAE ~ Al Ain’s racecourse on 29 January provided a rich harvest for owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel, trainer at Al Asayl Stables, along with former UAE Champion jockeys, Tadhg O’Shea and Fernando Jaram, all who had winning doubles to celebrate at the meetings end.
The most valuable race on the card was the finale, the Al Hili Handicap (1000m) and Jara was soon out in front on the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Love To Dance (Our Machine (US) x Shall We Dance BW (US) by LINE DANCER (US), having her first dirt outing locally after seven runs on the Abu Dhabi turf. The five-year-old was not to be caught and had more than three lengths to spare at the winning post.
Formerly a Grade Three winner in her native USA, she was recording a fifth career win, all on dirt and relishing being back to what is clearly her favorite surface.
The 2007 Dubai World Cup winning jockey was celebrating a minimum trip double having landed the preceding Al Saad Maiden over the same course on ES Khawsi (Big Easy (US) x Bint Amer (AE) by Amer.
With two non-runners defecting from the original field since the Tuesday declaration stage, the race was fought out by two reserves, Ramadi Al Rawasi and Jara’s mount, trained on the track by Mohd Ramadan.
It was only the third career start for the four-year-old who relished the drop in distance after showing plenty of speed on his debut over 1400 metres at Al Ain, then was well beaten in a stronger race over the same journey on the Abu Dhabi turf on his only subsequent outing.
MH Areeb landed the opening 1600m Wathba Stud Farm Cup for Private Owners (1600m), producing the lead in the final 100 metres by O’Shea, landed the opening 1600m Wathba Stud Farm Cup (1600m). Trained by MH Stable-based Elise Jeanne for owner Mansoor Khalifa Sultan bin Habtoor, this was a fifth career victory and the first 1600 metres win for the experienced seven-year-old.
“It is obviously the best possible start to the afternoon and Elise does well with the horses she has,” said O’Shea.
The season’s leading jockey was back in the winner’s enclosure 30 minutes later, sporting the famous red and white colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa having won the Emirates Martyrs’ Cup (1600m), the longer of two maidens on the card, for Lemartinel aboard Meydan Du Paon (Mahabb (AE) x Jade Du Paon (FR) by Dormane (FR).
“It was only his second career start and first on dirt,” said O’Shea. “He has handled the surface well and will have learned a lot today as he is still a big baby so, hopefully, he can progress again.”
Owner and trainer completed a double when jockey Gerald Avranche produced Smalah to hit the front inside the final 200 metres of the Jebel Hafeet Handicap (1400m), a comfortable success in the end with the mare scoring going away from runner-up Tha’Er.
It was a second career win on her eighth outing for the five-year-old that had landed the 2000 metres maiden at Sharjah in November when partnered by O’Shea.
“I knew she would be staying on,” said Lemartinel. “We hoped she had the pace to cope with the drop to the shortest distance she has tackled and she has finished off very strongly.”
The Curragh Racecourse, sponsored the Home Of The Irish Classics Handicap (1400m) the only Thoroughbred race which spotlighted a newly forged association between Al Ain Raccourse and the tradition-steeped headquarters of Irelands’s long racing history. The Satish Seemar-trained Ru’Oud celebrated the link by doubling his career tally after a long run of outs.