Al Asayl well represented in the capital
The most valuable race on Sunday’s Abu Dhabi card is a 1600m handicap for which only seven have been declared, three trained at Al Asayl by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with Tadhg O’Shea choosing to partner Tahany.
A course and distance maiden winner on this card last year, just her second career start, she was then upped in class for her four subsequent outings last season, running well on the whole.
Her seasonal debut, a fortnight ago, was a winning one, on the dirt at Al Ain and she looks open to improvement, especially under what may prove to be her optimum conditions.
Her stable companions, Deyaar and Molahen El Alhan, the mounts of Jesus Rosales and Jose Santiago respectively, are having their third and fourth starts of the season.
The latter has eight wins to his name, seven at Abu Dhabi and six over this 1600m trip, all bar one when ridden by O’Shea, but not since February 2016.
“It is not easy to get off Molahen El Alhan as he has been a great servant to all of us at Al Asayl,” said O’Shea. “He is more than capable of a big run, as is Deyaar but, on these terms, I have gone with the youngest of the trio who is, we hope, improving all the time.
“We are very hopeful the winner will come from the Al Asayl trio but only time will tell if have picked the right one in Tahany!”
Off the track since March 2016, Najem S’Heel, seven times a winner for Saifaldin Deeb, has his first outing for Mahmood Hussain.
The mount of apprentice Adam McLean, all his wins were achieved over sprint trips, 1000m and 1200m, and he failed to make the frame in two attempts over 1600m
Antonio Fresu rides AF Al Sajanjle for Champion Owner, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and trainer Ernst Oertel. Both his career wins have been over this course and distance, including last season’s Emirates Colts Classic in February.
He looks a big danger on his seasonal debut, while Al Tiryaq was impressive winning his most recent start, a 1400m Abu Dhabi conditions contest. Sam Hitchcott rides for Abdallah Al Hammadi.
O’Shea also had three Al Asayl runners from which to choose in the following conditions race, also over 1600m, siding with Mawahib, like Tahany, a four-year-old filly with a win already this season.
In her case, it was a Prestige contest at Sharjah over 1700m and she is seeking a first turf victory on her fifth attempt.
Gerald Avranche rides stable companion, Mahbooba, the class act in the race having won the 2200m Group 1 Emirates Championship in March.
She does have two course and distance victories to her name and looks sure to be staying on in the straight, while Jesus Rosales rides the third Lemartinel runner, RB Dixie Burning, thrice a course and distance winner.
O’Shea explained: “Again, it was a tough choice and we all know how good Mahbooba is, while these are probably the ideal conditions for RB Dixie Burning.
“However, as with Tahany, Mawahib is seemingly on the improve so I sided with her. Again, Al Asayl do appear to have the most likely winner and I hope I made the right choice.”
It is hard to disagree with O’Shea as the other pair, Oertel’s AF Marrah and Aljazi, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, appear to face stiff tasks at the weights.
Al Rayhi and O’Shea, his stable jockey at Grandstand Stables, combine with Najm Suhail in the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1400m handicap, the same course and distance over which they won in January and they landed a similar race, over the same trip, on his seasonal return at Jebel Ali five weeks ago, the very first meeting of the UAE season.
“He rarely runs a bad race and should be thereabouts in a very competitive looking race,” said O’Shea.
Satish Seemar saddles four, a quartet who appear among the main dangers and from whom Taaj is the choice of Richard Mullen. Pat Cosgrave rode Hawkesbury to win last weekend’s National Day Cup for the yard and rides stable companion, Megnaas, another worth plenty of respect in a wide open race.