4 March 2020, Al Ain, UAE ~ Racing at Al Ain on Thursday, 5 March 2020, is highlighted by the seventh edition of the track’s biggest race of the season, the 1600m Group 3 Al Ain Mile for which 13 have been declared, including Group 1-winning local Shahm making his debut on UAE dirt.
Trained by Majed Al Jahoori for Al Wathba Racing and the choice of Richard Mullen, Shahm (Mahabb) has won half of his 10 career starts, highlighted by victory in the 2000m Group 1 President Of The UAE Cup at ParisLongchamp in May 2018. The 7-year-old entire ran just once in 2019, winning a 2100m conditions race in December on the all-weather at Mons-Ghlin in Belgium.
The Al Wathba Racing silks will also be carried by Shadda’Ad (Munjiz), a winner over this Al Ain 1600m just last week for Ana Mendez. Fernando Jara retains the partnership on a 7-year-old entire who was opening his UAE account at the sixth attempt.
The owner’s third runner, Brraq (Mahabb), will be ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for Jean de Roualle and Mullen could also have partnered Somoud (Munjiz) carrying the colours of Yas Racing with Connor Beasley in the saddle for Ahmed Al Mehairbi.
Both Al Wathba Racing and Yas Racing are represented by horse owned by Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Mullen said: “I am very fortunate and privileged to ride some very nice horses for His Highness, which does involve making some very tricky choices at times, especially in the bigger races. Shahm’s form in Europe is very good and he has settled into his new routine and surroundings very well. Majed and his team have been very happy with him. Hopefully he will take to the dirt surface.
Mullen added: “Conditions obviously suit Shadda’Ad as he proved last week, Somoud is also an Al Ain winner and Brraq has won on a similar surface at Jebel Ali, so a case can be made for all four. Hopefully the boss has the winner!”
The race also features a rematch between RB Lam Tara and her conqueror in the 1600m Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah, Omani challenger Rasi. The latter, a first UAE winner at just the second attempt for trainer Sulaiman Al Ghunaimi, is penalised for that victory, but the 9-year-old entire again has the assistance of Harry Bentley.
“That was a smooth and quite impressive success,” Bentley said. “Obviously this is a different challenge under a penalty, on a different surface and right-handed, but he is a nice horse, so we have to be hopeful.”
RB Lam Tara is trained by Eric Lemartinel for Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan and was making her dirt debut when chasing home Rasi. Prior to that, the 5-year-old mare had won half of her eight turf outings including, on her penultimate start, beating AF Alwajel in the 1200m Group 2 Al Ruwais Stakes.
That form was franked last week when AF Alwajel beat Group 1 winner RB Money To Burn, representing the same connections as RB Lam Tara, in the 1400m Group 2 Liwa Oasis on the Abu Dhabi turf. As the only mare among the 13 runners, RB Lam Tara, the mount of Fabrice Veron, receives a weight allowance from her 12 rivals.
The only Thoroughbred contest on the seven-race card is a 1000m handicap in which the maximum field allowed of 15 is set to face the starter. It looks wide open with, from three confirmed Satish Seemar runners (the trainer also has the reserve Bedaveeya), Mullen opting to partner Al Mustashar.
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum has three runners with first jockey, Jim Crowley, siding with Farook for Erwan Charpy and Dane O’Neill, also retained by the owner, aboard Alfolk for Doug Watson.
Watson also saddles Dangerous Thought who has the assistance of stable jockey Pat Dobbs with Sam Hitchcott, also based with Watson at Red Stables, partnering Sheikh Hamdan’s third runner, Alraased, for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.