Musheer Al Wathba Gives Mullen 500th UAE Winnerin Al Ain Derby
13 March, 2020, Al Ain, UAE ~ Racing at Al Ain on Friday, 13 March 2020, was highlighted by the Final Leg of the Al Ain Marathon Series, a 5100m handicap afforded Prestige status. The race turned into a procession by Octave, sent straight to the front by an inspired Bernardo Pinheiro and, apart from when joined briefly by 2018 winner Ajjaj with a circuit remaining, did not see another rival.
Hugging the inside rail throughout, Pinheiro’s mount was clear after about 400m before seemingly given a breather by his jockey before setting out positively on the final circuit, soon clear again. As the field turned for home, it soon became apparent the race was Octave’s unless his stamina failed, which it certainly did not, the 5-year-old entire doubling his career tally in the process. His only previous success was actually registered on this weekend last year, over 2200m on the Abu Dhabi turf in another Prestige race, the UAE Arabian Derby. Owned by Al Ajban Stables, he is trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi, who has now won the race on four occasions since its 2015 inauguration, thrice with Balad Al Reef, who was a distant fourth this time. Octave (Najd (FR) x Theatre (US) by TC Tomtyr (US)).
Octave Win Race Video
Al Hammadi said: “We thought we had god chances with four runners and that was an excellent ride from Bernardo. To get first and second is very pleasing.”
Pinheiro added: “The plan was to be positive and I was always going very well. I managed to give him a breather and then he has just galloped on resolutely. That was a very good staying performance and stamina is clearly his forte.”
Al Ain Derby Gives Mullen 500th UAE Winner
The main support race, also a Prestige contest but restricted to 4-year-olds foaled in the UAE, was the 1800m Al Ain Derby and the prize stayed at home with Musheer Al Wathba (TAHAR DE CANDELON), trained on the track by Jean de Roualle and provided Richard Mullen with his 500th UAE winner, completing a double on the card for himself and owner Yas Racing.
Settled in midfield, the homebred colt crept into contention in the straight before striking for home with just over 225m remaining after which they never looked likely to be caught. The exciting colt has now won half his four career starts and is unbeaten on dirt having won a 1600m maiden here at Al Ain on his local debut and second career outing at the beginning of January.
“His last piece of work was very good,” De Roualle said. “He is only going to improve because he is still a big baby and has a lot to learn because he is very immature which is why we put cheekpieces on. I am very pleased with him and actually think this is going to be a better horse on the turf at Abu Dhabi but he will not run again this season.”
Mullen added: “I am overwhelmed and to bring up the 500 in the Yas Racing colours in a big race is the perfect scenario. We knew he had a good chance and credit to Jean and his team who have done such a great job with this horse.”
The only Thoroughbred race was a 2600m handicap and won comfortably by Cinq Rules under Jesus Rosales, the pair hitting the front entering the home straight before staying on strongly and always holding the late challenge of Blue Sovereign.
The love affair of Jayide Al Boraq (Burning Sand) with Al Ain continued with the 6-year-old entire leading in the final 200m to post a relatively comfortable success in a 1000m handicap, in doing so making it five wins from just six visits to the track, commencing with a debut victory over 1600m in a maiden on this card last year.
Ridden for the first time by apprentice Joanna Grzybowska, enjoying a belated first winner of the season, they were slowly away but soon chasing the leaders before hitting the front and staying on strongly with the race soon in safekeeping.
Owned by Al Rahmani Racing, he has been a revelation for trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi who said: “We thought he was decent when he won his maiden this day last year and he has just kept on improving. The only time he has disappointed was over 1800m last April but these shorter trips really suit him.
“He was also second on his only turf outing at Abu Dhabi and has really had a great season. We are delighted with him.”
Restricted to horses in private ownership, the opening 1800m handicap went to Dream De Montjoi (Burning Sand), originally a reserve but who took full advantage of his place among the 15 runners, leading early in the straight under Sandro Paiva and clinging on grimly to deny the persistent challenge of Alsaeid, the pair locked in a thrilling duel throughout the final 300m.
Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for Nasir Askar, the 7-year-old gelding, off the track for 363 days, was doubling his career tally in the process, his previous victory having been achieved in a 1200m maiden at Sharjah in November 2017.
Assistant trainer, Maria Ritchie said: “Obviously we were glad to get a run with this horse after the scratchings and he deserved a win having been second in both his latest starts.
“He had been off almost exactly a year so should improve for the run and hopefully we can find another suitable race for him depending on what the handicapper does with him.”
Another race restricted to horses foaled locally, a 1400m maiden was won stylishly by Shammarah (No Risk Al Maury), trained locally by Helal Al Alawi for Yas Racing and opening his account at the seventh attempt.
Confidently ridden by Richard Mullen, the homebred 4-year-old filly tracked the early pace before Mullen drove her past eventual runner-up AF Sultan halfway up the straight after which they soon had victory assured.
Al Alawi said: “Our horses are running well and we thought she had a big chance. She was only beaten a head, over 1600m here, on her most recent start and Richard has given here a great ride.
“She has also run well at Abu Dhabi so is a nice filly to have in the yard and, now she has won, hopefully she can progress.”
A 1600m maiden was won stylishly by AF Barari (AF MAQAM ALEZZ (AE), probably never headed under Antonio Fresu, sporting the predominantly green silks of Khalfan Hamad Al Qubaisi for whom it was a first winner for three seasons and opening the seasonal account of trainer Yousif bin Ghilan.
Having not finished in the first three in any of her ten previous racecourse appearances, the 6-year-old mare was tackling the longest distance she had faced to date and it clearly suited. Futoon, who tracked the pace set by Fresu, looked a big danger but was not able to get past but did keep on for second.
Fresu said: “In fairness, the connections were pretty confident the 1600m would suit and the plan was to be positive so basically everything has gone to plan. It was a good effort because Futoon has some decent form in the book.”
Note: The UAE Races are being held without spectators during this time.