Champion Jockey, Richard Mullen, was the man to follow at Al Ain on Saturday evening, riding a treble, including landing the featured 1000m handicap, the final race of seven, on Extra Hope. Sporting the colours of the ever popular Ali Haddad, Mullen was content to take a lead from Joori until just past halfway when he sent his willing mount for home. She responded well, soon putting daylight between herself and nine toiling rivals, adding to her course and distance victory in November, her first career success, which she followed with a 1200m win at Abu Dhabi.
She then probably failed to stay 1400m, also on the turf in the capital, but still ran well in third. She is trained by Satish Seemar who said: “The only time she has been beaten this season was over 1400m and we only ran here then because there were no sprint options; she is a sprinter, 1000m or 1200m are her trips. We are delighted for Ali Haddad who deserves all the success he enjoys as a very enthusiastic and loyal owner in local racing.” Mullen added: “It has been a good evening and I have been lucky to ride winners for three of my biggest supporters which is ideal.”
Jockey and trainer had already combined to win the only Thoroughbred race, a 1400m handicap, with the impressive Sky Jockey. Never far off the pace, and ridden confidently, he quickened to the front in style 300m out and was never going to be caught. Seemar said: “This horse does not like to be crowded in his races so this track is ideal and the field was well spaced out which suited him. His last win was last April in China, on turf, and he has also won at Jebel Ali and Meydan on dirt, so the ability and versatility are there. Richard gave him a great ride, keeping him out of any kickback and we will look for something over 1400m or 1600m and he will then go back to China again.”
Mullen agreed and said: “He had never been here before so we thought a change of scenery might do the trick as he had been running a bit flat at Jebel Ali and Meydan. It has really suited him out, especially the long wide straight. He is a decent horse but can just be a bit quirky.”
MD Sterling Silver was the middle leg of Mullen’s treble, in doing so denying weighing room colleague Pat Cosgrave and trainer Helal Al Alawi a third winner apiece on the card. That had looked on the cards for a long way in the 2000m handicap when Cosgrave and Boss Des Vialettes went clear about 400m out but they were unable to thwart the challenge of MD Sterling Silver in the final 100m. Trained by Jaci Wickham, the winner was registering a fourth career success but first, at the 22ndattempt, here in the UAE. Mullen said: “It is great to ride a winner for Jaci who has always been a massive supporter of mine and over very many years now. We go back a long way and I always know when she wants me to ride one it is because she thinks it has a good chance. She was certainly right today!”
Earlier, there was a ‘nail biting’ finish to the opening 1600m handicap in which Silvestre de Sousa and AF Makerah cruised to the front 400m out with, seemingly, their nine rivals all beaten. However, Pat Cosgrave managed to produce a determined late challenge from Nizora and they gradually eroded the advantage throughout the final 200m. It was soon obvious it would be a case of when the line arrived and, when it did, it was a stride too late for AF Makerah who was snared right on the post by Cosgrave’s mount.
Trained by Helal Al Alawi for the Byerley Team, it was a first career win at just the fourth attempt for Nizora who was denied close home in a maiden under Cosgrave over the same course and distance in his previous start three weeks ago. Al Alawi said: “He ran very well last time and was caught close home. That was his first start on dirt and he ran well on turf the first time so is versatile. We were pretty confident coming here today. Pat has given him a great ride and hopefully this horse is improving.”
Trainer and jockey completed a double but in a totally contrasting manner with Matab proving in a different class, on just his second career start, in a 1400m maiden. The maximum field of 15 may have taken part but, before halfway, only a handful held any kind of realistic chance. Swinging for home, Cosgrave was sat motionless before allowing his mount to ease to the front 450m from home, at which point the jockey afforded himself the luxury of looking behind to see if anyone was going with him. They were not and the pair coasted home to record a very easy victory and building on his debut course and distance third of three weeks ago. Al Alawi said: “He is a nice young colt who ran a pleasing debut and we expected a big run from him today. He has not disappointed.”
The Al Asayl team of owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trainer Eric Lemartinel rarely leave Al Ain empty handed and also celebrated a double. Having just her second start and looking inexperienced throughout the majority of the race, Faheeda really buckled down to the urgings of Tadhg O’Shea in the final quarter of the 1600m maiden. Plugging on gamely, she hit the front with less than 200m to run and soon had the race in safe keeping.
Lemartinel said: “She had progressed from her first run, we knew that, but as you could see she was still looking about so is still learning and, hopefully, improving.” O’Shea added: “I was actually suspended when she ran first time but she had a nice introduction over 2000m at Sharjah. She learned a lot, will stay further and there should be more to come from her.”
Owner and trainer celebrated a rapid double and supplied first and second in the following 2000m conditions race but O’Shea had to settle for second on this occasion aboard Meydan Du Paon who was caught in the closing stages by Gerald Avranche aboard Jeemi. Shedding his maiden tag at the seventh attempt, he clearly relished the stamina test and Lemartinel said: “These two horses actually train together most mornings and there is little between them when they work so we expected them to be close together in the race. To have first and second is always a special achievement and the winner has not raced much so that is pleasing to win with him, while Meydan Du Paon is much more experienced but perhaps not the most determined in a battle.”