Friday January 31, 2014, Al Ain ~ The first ever race at Al Ain Racecourse, an 1800m maiden, was won by the Bakhit Al Ketbi-trained Raad W’Rsan (Bibi De Carrere (FR) x Methaliya (AE) by TAHAR DE). He produced late by Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea to lead close home and deny Dhafeef who looked the likely winner for most of the long 600m straight.
O’Shea was, understandably delighted and said: “The horse has really had to work hard to get there but they seemed to go quite quick for this grade so his stamina has gained the day. What a great start to my Al Ain career!”
Both O’Shea and Richard Mullen were full of praise for the track and all–weather surface, agreeing it was a welcome addition to the UAE racing circuit, adding that the surface was better than last week’s trial and will continue to improve as it is raced on more and more.
The official feature, a quality 1600m conditions event, was turned into a procession by Bigg N Rich (FALINA DES FABRIES (FR) x Viraac (US) by Virgule Al Maury), given a supremely confident ride by James Doyle, replacing the unavailable Ted Durcan. Apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei set a generous gallop on Laamma but, with the field about to enter the straight he could not overcome his adversary. At this stage, Doyle looked exceptionally confident on Bigg N Rich but was happy to take his time, easing to the front about 500m out but not committing his mount until the 100m pole. A shake of the reins was all it took and the pair skipped clear of runner-up AF Lafeh.
Doyle said: “You have to feel sorry for Ted Durcan whose father has not been well and he has flown home but it was a lovely spare ride on what appeared the best horse going into the race. A new surface is always a question mark but he has handled it well and his class shone through.”
A large and appreciative crowd had flocked through the gates and were present to see Royston Ffrench land the first handicap, over 1600m, on AF Tharb (MADOUA DE PIBOUL (FR) x AL DHEIBA (GB) by Bengali D’Albret), trained in Al Ain (but not on the track) by Helal Al Alawi. Never far off the pace, Ffrench could be seen to be travelling particularly well as the runners entered the straight but was happy to take his time before going for home 300m out.
Ffrench said: “The horse clearly likes this surface and has really enjoyed it today. It is great to get on the board at the track’s first meeting.”
Ffrench wasted little time in completing a double, landing the first Thoroughbred race on the course, a 1600m handicap, on Need To Know, trained by his main employer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
Settled in mid division, Ffrench asked his mount to close on the leaders early in the straight and they led about 200m out, running on strongly to win easily to the delight of his jockey who said: “He clearly relished this different surface and deserved that after some good recent runs in defeat. He is just so versatile and runs his normal solid race on any surface.”
The jockey made it a treble in the penultimate contest, a 1400m maiden, aboard AF Al Almaa (AF AL BURAQ (AE) x NARAA (US) by Calin De Louve (FR), winning at the third time of asking, for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami.
The concluding race, a 1400m maiden restricted to fillies and mares, gave Tadhg O’Shea a chance to double up, winning on debutante RB Dixie Burning (Burning Sand (US) – Dixies Delight (US) by Sam Tiki (US) for Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel.
Full Results: [gview file=”http://www.horsereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/31-01Results_9388_Zakhir_14-30.pdf” save=”1″]