4 April 2019, Al Ain, UAE ~ Racing at Al Ain on Thursday, 4 April 2019, was capped with the 1800m handicap, giving RB Grynade another chance to shine. After AF Al Baher looked the likely winner when hitting the front 300m out, they had no answer to the late challenge of RB Grynade (Burning Sand (US) x Frynzy (US) by Dormane (FR) with jockey Fabrice Veron hard at work, the pair nearer last than first leaving the home turn. Once in the straight though, the 5-year-old entire, winner of the 2700m Sharjah Marathon on his penultimate start, flew home in the final 300m to actually win relatively easily for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel.
The card opened with a 1000m handicap for horses in private ownership which provided the perfect opportunity for 7 year-old mare, Ragaid Al Ghariba (MAJD AL ARAB (GB) x DAINOUNAT AL NAIF (QA) by PRALIDJAN (FR), previously a maiden after ten starts, to get her head in front. She was chased home by Ubu Al Mels and Ganesh D’Aillas, both trained on the track by Mohd Ramadan who is still seeking that first elusive winner of the season.
An hour later, Al Balushi was back in the winner’s enclosure having completed a double aboard Jamaheer (AF ALBAHAR (AE) x Sandra SA (US) by Burning Sand (US) in a 1400m maiden, in doing so supplying trainer Mohammed Al Shamsi his first UAE winner since February 2016 and fourth in total. Owned by Hasan Ali Hasan Marran Al Dhaheri, the 5-year-old mare was having just her fourth career start and eventually ran out a convincing winner with the pair never in any danger after striking the front just over 100m from home.
Al Shamsi said: “Obviously it is nice to get a winner on the board and we think this is a decent mare, so with luck she can progress again.”
The only Thoroughbred contest, a 1400m handicap, looked ultra-competitive on paper and that proved to be the case with at least eight of the 15 runners still holding serious claims with 450m to run when Etisalat, the last to challenge snatched thelead 100m out before running on strongly to win going away.
Sufyan (Munjiz (FR) x Shumoos (FR) by Djouras Tu (FR) showed plenty of determination and a great attitude when responding gamely for for Richard Mullen to take the 1600m maiden to open his account on his fourth career outing, three in the UAE, all at Al Ain. Homebred by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trained by Mohamed Ali, the 4-year-old colt, having been well beaten on both his sole start in Europe and on local debut, was then a close second in a 1600m maiden five weeks ago and is clearly progressing.
Mullen said: “Fair play to everyone involved, the owner for bringing him here, as well as the trainer and his team who have improved him with each start. He is still learning and is starting to understand what is required, so with improvement to come and that great attitude, he could be a nice horse.”
The 1800m maiden restricted to horses foaled locally was won by AF Al Motamen (AL KESBE (FR) x Fleur Du Cayrou (FR) by Dormane (FR), yet another winner this season for the irrepressible team of Ernst Oertel, Tadhg O’Shea and Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the latter who also bred the 4-year-old colt. Settled in midfield on just his second outing, having finished fifth in a 1400m Al Ain maiden three weeks ago, he made stealthy progress leaving the home turn before staying on relentlessly to lead in the final 75m.
Oertel said: “He is a very nice horse with a good pedigree and plenty of ability. We knew he had improved from his first run and has shown good battling qualities there on just his second start, so hopefully he is a nice horse for the future.”
O’Shea added: “They went pretty quick there and a low draw is not always a good one here, especially when we received quite a bump on the home turn, so he has done well to win. He is only going to get better you would hope because he is learning slowly and is a horse we like.”
Owner and trainer soon celebrated a double, in 1800m maidens, through a thrilling finish when, in the very last stride, Connor Beasley produced Zhahana (NASHWAN AL KHALIDIAH (SA) x Madone De Piboul (FR) by Dormane (FR)to deny Antonio Fresu and TM Nicole Lisette by a flared nostril.
Having raced twice in his native France, the 5-year-old mare was having her second local outing having been well beaten when seventh on her UAE debut, in a 1400m Al Ain maiden, five weeks ago and had clearly benefitted from the first look at the dirt surface.
Beasley said: “She was a big baby because she kept running in snatches and was almost knocked sideways at one stage, so did well to win. To be honest, when we crossed the line I was pretty confident, but it was actually a lot closer than I thought!”