Feature Story



By Suleiman Altaf - 

Al Ain plays host to no less than an Olympicstyle card this Friday for the Purebred Arabians as the rescheduled concluding leg of the Al Ain Marathon Series, run over 5100m, coincides with the fast and furious Al Ain Sprint. The AED120,000 Al Ain Marathon is the highlight of the racing calendar in the Garden City, and it is all set to crown a new champion with the absence of last year’s scorer Al Mahbooba opening the floor for the third and final leg. At the top of the card is Dennis O’Brien’s Hakeem who resides on a mark of 98. Still to taste a long-distance victory, the sixyear- old son of Sir Bani Yas has managed a silver medal in both the first and second legs this term and a breakthrough success is imminent some time soon. The mount of Richard Mullen has displayed a good knack for long distances with a staying on display in both marathon starts and maybe the extra kilometre of the third leg can get him over the line this time.

The inform yard has picked up more momentum of late with AA Lahab’s devastating feature race success last week representative of their current slick run of form. Try and try until you succeed is a proverb Loolwa (Bernardo Pinheiro) has certainly lived up to in her marathon career. Seeing the back of Al Mahbooba on four occasions since last year, the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained eight-yearold mare finally conquered her archrival (and Hakeem) in Round Two of the Series last start, going gate-to-wire no less. Her rating has, understandably, been propelled upwards by 11 to 98 and with that comes the task of negotiating 59kgs for Friday’s event. Abdallah Al Hammadi’s yard is always well-featured in such races, and he dispatches four for this event. Oxford, fourth in the second leg, is the mount of Al Moatasem Al Balushi while Octave, winner of the second leg in 2022, will be partnered by Jules Mobian. Completing the quartet are Indys Day (Tadgh O’Shea) and Golden Years (Royston Ffrench) who is being dispatched in marathon company for the very first time on what is her 26th start.

The Prestige Al Ain Sprint is also set to welcome a new heir as last year’s victor Heros De Lagardere has dodged a defence of his crown for obvious reasons having taken the Group 1 Emirates Championship last weekend. That sets a good precedent for the 15 competing for the lion’s share of the AED100,000 on offer this year with RB Money Maker taken to dictate and dominate this year’s renewal. The Hamad Al Marar trainee has had a patchy season so far despite kicking off his campaign with victory over course and distance. Recently, he was narrowly overhauled by Irfan Ellahi’s re-opposing JAP Hadad (Ffrench) when giving away plenty of weight and drawing off a true line in the closing stages.

Off level weights and with O’Shea already familiar with his quirky attitude, it will be a surprise if that form does not reverse. The Ellahi pupil himself has shown a clear liking for sprints with all four career victories being recorded over the 1200m trip or shorter and has lately gone from strength to strength in this division, hacking up three victories this season already. Another interesting prospect in this is Maahir. Trained by Majed Al Jahoori, the five-year-old may only have one win to his name but has been lurking around in some of the top sprinting races recently with a pair of fourths from the Group 2 Bani Yas and Group 3 Al Ruwais. The booking of apprentice Qais Al Busaidi places him well in this field. Seven other races on the programme cater to different classes and distances, all within the Purebred Arabian breed.