SEVEN RACES including two interesting Purebred Arabian contests make up this Friday’s Al Ain card, which carries a combined prize purse of Dh510,000. As is the norm at Al Ain, just one of the seven races is nominated as a Thoroughbred contest and this week’s affair is a 2600m handicap that is wide open with no clear names going into the hat as the heavyweights. And although there are a few that have done well on the dirt at Al Ain, it still remains pretty much there for the taking by whoever turns up in best form. And there are quite a few capable of doing just that with the in form Zabeel Stables boss Satish Seemar expected to field Immortalised, who won here a little under two years ago over 2000m, but finished well beaten in this corresponding event last season.
A month after that dismal run, the 6yo son of Frankel ran third over course and distance and with a victory already under his belt this season, when edging Glorious Poet by a neck over 2200m at Meydan on his last run on 4 January, he could easily be fancied to make it two in a row for owners Al Bayraq Stables. Another potent prospect is Ahmed Al Shemaili’s Antimo who is somewhat of an Al Ain specialist, albeit over 2000m. His five starts this term, have yielded two wins and a runner up finish at Al Ain, with a sixth at Jebel Ali and a latest fifth at Meydan. While those results might give the impression he could be very much in the mix, the 7yo Dubawi gelding has never run beyond 2000m and could be out of his depth in terms of trip.
Still in the capable hands of his in form rider Antonio Fresu, Antimo must be respected. Ahmad bin Harmash’s Sa’Ada has run twice this term and has shown visible improvement over the 2000m and subsequent 2200m trips she was asked to tackle at Meydan when securing fourth and then third respectively. Stepping up in trip might not be an ideal option for the 5yo Bellamy Road mare after she didn’t appear to have much in the tank for a challenge on her last run over 2200m. Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s duo, former hurdler Chingachgook and Jamesian, quite frankly, merit plenty of interest purely because they looks best suited to tackle the trip.
Chingachgook, a 5yo Al Kazeem gelding, claimed his only career success in a hurdling event at Musselburgh over 3300m, while Jamesian did post a course and distance second twice last term and with no other candidate having distance running credentials, the stable companions could be slugging this out among themselves.
Blue Sovereign may be another candidate worth keeping an eye on. Trained by Erwan Charpy, this 5yo Teofilo gelding’s best performance has been last season’s close second behind Dolmen on turf at Meydan, but a third on his only run here over 2000m might have forced the Frenchman to consider sending him out. Fawzi Nass’ Obeyaan goes at Al Ain for the first time having sampled action at Meydan and Jebel Ali in the past, with the 4yo Tiznow colt yet to win a race but having shown good form on his last run up the Jebel Ali hill where he was third to Tailor’s Row over 1800m. He could be contesting the race at the finish, although doubts over the long trip remain a concern for him like it is for most of the rest in what we must reiterate is a wide open contest.
Of the six Purebred Arabian contests, the 1800m handicap and 2000m conditions event appeal most with Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Onward perhaps the favourite in the former having won three of his four starts at Al Ain this term from 1800m to 2200m. The 4yo Munjiz horse’s only blemish was being beaten in second by a short head in a race in which he was bumped at the start. The Al Hammadi trainee rebounded immediately winning his very next start and will definitely be the one to beat as he looks to win again. Doug Watson’s course and distance winner from last term Foaad carries a bit of appeal too, but his performances since then have been rather dismal and he goes into this having run well on his last start when taking fifth by two and a quarter lengths behind Onward.
Mohammed Ramadhan’s 100 rated Burj Al Arab stands out among the rest of his rivals in the 2000m conditions race, but his form has been far from perfect with his past five starts in Group company yielding unplaced results. This drop in class should be ideal for the 9yo Burning Sand gelding, with Ernst Oertel’s winner over 1600m here in November AF Yahawa perhaps his biggest challenger. A further two Purebred Arabian handicaps over 1400m and 1800m and another two maidens over the same distances have also been scheduled on the card.