By Duane Fonseca
Trainers Ana Mendez and Abdallah Al Hammadi and jockey Richard Mullen claimed doubles at Al Ain during the seven race card Friday night, the brace doing the English jockey a big favour as it yanked him closer to the top in the UAE Jockeys Championship race.
Mullen now has 17 wins and is two behind leading pair comprising defending champion Tadhg O’Shea and Antonio Fresu, who have been battling at the top among themselves since the start of the 2019/20 campaign. Fresu trailed O’Shea by one before Al Ain but winning the only Thoroughbred contest on the card brought him level with the Irishman.
Fresu’s success arrived in the 2000m handicap on the back of Ahmed Al Shemaili trained Antimo, a course and distance winner in December. Antimo chased the leaders for the early parts before bursting forward in the home stretch to join leader Heraldic, whom he headed 200m out and beat by three fourths of a length at the wire. Trainer Satish Seemar and rider Richard Mullen had won a Carnival race the night before but the pair were denied as Heraldic finished six lengths clear of his third placed bannermate Blue Sovereign trained by Erwan Charpy and ridden by Fabrice Veron.
There would be joy for Mullen during the course of the night though as his brace was achieved with two Mendez trainees Rahaal Al Wathba and Rawaa, who won an 1800m maiden and a 1000m conditions event respectively.
Rahaal Al Wathba swooped home to win by 10 and three fourths of a length from Eric Lemartinel schooled pair Basmah and Rokbello Du Cayrou, who were two and a quarter lengths apart at the finish.
Rawaa also won well, snatching a two and a quarter length success ahead of Ibrahim Al Hadhrami’s Marmara XM, the ride of Szczepan Mazur. In third place, a further length and a half behind was Ernst Oertel’s AF Taghzel with O’Shea in the saddle.
Racing began with a 1400m maiden won by Khalifa Al Neyadi’s Elione Chaves ridden WMA Afar, who went virtually unchallenged from gate to post to win by four and a quarter lengths from Oertel’s AF Sail ridden by O’Shea, with stable companion AF Namous a further length and three quarters behind under Fresu.
Al Hammadi opened his account in the 2000m handicap with Onward, ridden by Pat Cosgrave, who edged Lemartinel’s RB Grynade by a head with the French handler’s other charge Jaahiz third by a neck under Veron.
And the Emirati handler enjoyed his second success when Mazur rode in first on the back of Safin Al Reef in the 1800m handicap, the margin of win a neck from second placed Ahmed Al Mehairbi’s Algharbi, who was a length and a quarter ahead of AF Al Baher.
Ahmed Salem Al Shamsi was another Emirati to score on the card when in fact taking what was a first career success with WMA Forte, who romped to a 10 length win under Sandro Paiva in the 1600m handicap, which was the penultimate race on the card. In second place was Al Shemaili’s Connor Beasley ridden AF Senad with Irfan Ellahi’s JAP Al Yaasoob taking third a further length and three fourths under Rowan Scott.