Ghazwan Al Khalediah among favourites for Al Ain Sprint - GulfToday

Ghazwan Al Khalediah among favourites for Al Ain Sprint


Al Ain Sprint will be the highlight of a seven-race card final meeting of the Al Ain season. Supplied photo

Al Ain stages its final meeting, the penultimate meeting of the UAE season, on Thursday evening with a seven-race card highlighted by the 1000m Al Ain Sprint.

The race has attracted a field of eight, including Ghazwan Al Khalediah, victorious on both his two most recent outings.

Trained locally at The National Stables, the 7-year-old was actually unraced before this season, making a winning debut over 1400m at Al Ain in November when he appeared a very exciting prospect. However, he then twice disappointed somewhat when finishing fourth back at Al Ain, then Jebel Ali, over 1400m before being dropped to 1000m for his penultimate start in early February. That resulted in a smooth victory and, a month later, he won again even more impressively. That was four weeks ago under Antonio Fresu, who is again in the saddle.

Al Alawi explained: “We have always really liked this horse, but had to be very patient with him since we bought him in Saudi Arabia because he needed plenty of time. He won well on debut and has again his last two starts. This is a stronger race, but he deserves the step up in class and we are hopeful.”

Richard Mullen won on Alawi’s charge on his penultimate start, but is aboard Lou Raynal in this for Yousif Bin Ghilan. A course and distance winner on his local debut, in January, he did not stay 3200m on his next outing and has been well beaten three times since over 1600m. Reverting to 1000m should suit him.

However, Eric Lemartinel would appear to saddle the main dangers to the remaining six with both the penalised RB Torch, the mount of Jesus Rosales and dropping in class for UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as RB Money To Burn holding strong claims.

The latter also has a penalty, but remains unbeaten after three starts, having made a winning debut here at Al Ain over 1400m in November before, four weeks later, winning the 1600m Listed Abu Dhabi Championship on the Abu Dhabi turf.

Only a 4-year-old, owned by Sheikha Alyazia Bint Suultan Al Nahyan, she then followed up over 1200m at Abu Dhabi in the Group 3 Al Ruwais, defeating Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 heroine Wadeeaa and classy sprinter ES Ajeeb.

She has shown plenty of speed in all three starts when, arguably, she has yet to be headed and she must go close under Fabrice Veron who is seeking a third victory on the exciting filly.

The only Thoroughbred race, a 2000m handicap, will be contested by the maximum field allowed of 15 and, as is typical in these races, looks absolutely wide open.

For Satish Seemar, Mullen partners Pertinacious, having his first start for the master of Zabeel Stables and owner Nasir Askar, having previously been trained by Mike de Kock for Sheikh Mohamed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. A 4-year-old Smart Strike gelding, he was, as a juvenile, a very promising second over 1400m on debut at Jebel Ali, but has subsequently been disappointing in five outings. A change of scenery could spark a revival.

Hello, the choice of Fernado Jara from three Ali Rashid Al Rayhi runners, made a bright start to the campaign, winning over 1950m and 1800m at the first two Jebel Ali meetings of the season, but has been inconsistent since, including when well beaten over this 2000m in January.

However, the 6-year-old gelded son of Teofilo, owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, did win over course and distance last February.

Logistics has not been seen in racecourse action since December 2017 when, on his final start for Alawi, he won over 1400m at Jebel Ali. The mount of Antonio Fresu, 496 days later, he will be having his first outing for Erwan Charpy, who is more than capable of winning with a horse after such a long absence.

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Team Emirates’ Pogacar claims podium finish

A monumental final push in the UAE heat from Tadej Pogacar wasn’t enough to take the win in the third stage of the team’s home country as Adam Yates...

The 184km Emirates Stage finished with an exhausting 10.8km climb as Yates launched a surprisingly early attack with 6km to go. Pogacar didn’t react to Yates’ initial acceleration but then ripped clear of the chasing group with 5km remaining, finishing second in the stage, claiming the young rider’s jersey and ending the day second in the GC in a successful day for the team.

Pogacar said “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased.

“There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so will try something for sure.”

Pogacar will get another chance to claim back the one minute GC deficit as the fifth stage of the Tour finishes at the same Jebel Hafeet summit.

Pogacar will wear the white young rider’s jersey in Wednesday’s stage as the race sees the riders return to the flats which will come as welcome relief for the sprinters.

The Emirates NBD Stage starts from Zabeel Park, crosses Mushrif Park and Motor City before finishing at Dubai City Walk where the popular walkway has been transformed as part of the racing route.

British climber Yates pulverised the opposition on the tough, final ascent of stage, winning by over a minute and taking the overall race lead.

His compatriot Chris Froome was dropped early in the race.

The four-time Tour de France winner again struggled on his comeback from injuries sustained last May.

The 27-year-old Yates is also making his 2020 debut and looks favourite to win in a competitive field after his stunning attack from 6km out at the end of a warm day with temperatures passing 30C.

“I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good,” said Yates, whose win gives him a 1min 07sec lead in the overall.

“A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again, and maybe my legs won’t be so good then,” Yates said in reference to stage five.

“Also tomorrow I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see.”

Yates was followed up the final 10.6km Jebell Hafeet climb at a 7 per cent gradient by a trio of challengers with Slovenian prodigy Pogacar finishing 1min 03sec adrift.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko was third at 1min 30sec accompanied by up-and-coming Frenchman David Gaudu.

Yates came fourth at the 2016 Tour de France and is targeting the Grand Boucle this summer where he will lead the Australian team ahead of his brother Simon.

Wednesday’s flat stage, the fourth of seven, is a 173km run to Dubai City Walk where a mass bunch sprint is expected.

Stage 3 Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30

General Classification Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35

22 hours ago