19 December 2014 ~Al Ain, UAE ~ The opening round of the Al Ain Sprint series went down to champion jockey, Tadhg O’Shea on Najem S’Heel (BIG EASY (US) x LAZIA LOTOISE (FR) by Kesberoy).
Trainer Saifaldin Deeb was responsible for the winner, a 1000m victor on the Abu Dhabi turf on his previous start on 7 December. Najem S’Heel chased the speed until halfway before being sent to the front entering the final 200m. He ran on strongly to post a comfortable success.
“I knew my horse had plenty of pace,” said O’Shea. “On the official ratings he had plenty to find but the 1000m dash and dirt really suited him.”
O’Shea was completing a double having already won on Mazaha (Dormane (FR) x Essaana (FR) by Tornado De Syrah) in the 1600m race for Private owners. Runner-up on her previous start in a 1400m course maiden, the Helal Al Alawi-trained runner went one better and opened her account at the tenth attempt.
Last at halfway, O’Shea was soon pushing his mount along but she responded well, keeping on strongly and hitting the front 100m out, denying AF Asefah.
“She showed last time she handles this surface,” said O’Shea. The extra 200m today has suited her and she ran all the way to the line.”
The main support race, a 2600m handicap and the opening leg of The Al Ain Marathon Series, was won impressively by Zeyad (Saut Du Loup (FR) x Haibah (OM) by VERTIGO) winning his second consecutive race having opened his account in an 1800m course handicap three weeks ago.
Settled in midfield by Royston Ffrench, the pair chased the leaders entering the long straight before easing to the front 300m out and running on far too strongly for seven toiling rivals.
“He won well last time and should probably have won his previous start, said Ffrench. “He clearly stays very well and is going the right way – it was only his seventh start.”
Ffrench was completing a double, having already won the opening 1800m maiden with AL Mukafih (Barabas x Nabigah (OM) by NEWDAY), landing the spoils for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and for the Royal Cavalry of Oman.
The Secret loomed large as a danger and headed Ffrench’s mount briefly but AL Mukafih was not to be denied, leading again close home.
“That was his first start on dirt and only fourth career outing, said Ffrench. “He has handled the surface well and was very game. He should improve.
The Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Alameer (PRINCE D’ORIENT (FR) x Letlato De Carrere by Tidjani (FR) recorded his second career victory when winning a 1400m handicap under Dane O’Neill, riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. A 1400m maiden winner on his penultimate start, also at Al Ain, he was ridden confidently by O’Neill just off the pace.
“I was getting a lovely lead throughout the early stages and was always happy,” said O’Neill. “We know he stays further so he was always going to run all the way to the line.”
The ever powerful Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen combination paired up to land the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap with Shihab, winning for the first time locally at the ninth attempt.