Marathon specialist sets course record with thumping victory - GulfToday

Marathon specialist sets course record with thumping victory


Grab And Run leads the pack at the only Thoroughbred race, a 1000m maiden, at Al Ain on Friday.

The Second Leg of the Al Ain Marathon Series, a 4100m handicap, was the highlight of the meeting in Al Ain on Friday and emphatic winner Balad Al Reef, who was almost 11 lengths clear of runner-up Sufyan crossing the line, also breaking the track record set in the same race last year by Jeemi, who was 20 lengths back in fourth this time.

A 9-year-old entire trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, Balad Al Reef is a real fixture in these staying races headlined by a trio of victories in the series final, a 5100m Prestige handicap in 2016, 2017 and last year, 2019.

This was just his third outing of the season having been well beaten in the first round, over 3200m won by his closest pursuer here, Sufyan before plugging on to finish fifth over 2200m on turf at Abu Dhabi 12 days ago. He was, for the first time, ridden by Connor Beasley on this occasion and clearly remains a force to be reckoned with when stamina is the name of the game.

Class prevailed in the 1600m conditions race for horses who had not previously won more than twice with Shad’ad, whose official rating of 100 suggested he was comfortably the best horse in the race, on paper at least, prevailing under Fernando Jara in the silks of Al Wathba Racing for Ana Mendez.

Twice a winner in Europe, on turf, the homebred 6-year-old entire was opening his local account at the sixth attempt and fifth run on dirt. He was taking a massive drop in class considering his four previous dirt outings were two apiece in Group 1 and Group 2 company at Meydan.

Jara, who had partnered the same owner’s Bandar to victory in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 about 25 hours earlier for Majed Al Jahoori said: “I was delighted to get this ride because on official ratings he had a massive chance and he was dropping markedly in grade. The 1600m is probably his minimum because his form in Europe was over further. This should do the horse’s confidence plenty of good.”     

Mendez, greeting her 14th winner in her first season with a licence said: “Everything has gone very well and I am just lucky to be training such nice horses for such good owners.”          Trained locally by Helal Al Alawi for Saleh Omar Ali Bin Haidar, Grab And Run did just that with the prize for the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1000m maiden, landing the spoils under Szczepan Mazur.

Runner-up twice from six starts when trained in Britain by Richard Fahey for Noel O’Calllaghan, the 4-year-old gelded son of Kodiac was sold at Tattersalls in October for 7,000gns.

This was his second appearance for current connections having finished well beaten when never threatening to land a blow on his local and dirt debut in a 1400m Meydan maiden on the first day of February. He was much sharper on this occasion, crossing the line more than two lengths clear of his 14 rivals.

The jockey was soon celebrating a 1000m double, this time combining with his main employer, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami to take a handicap with Arif for the Royal Cavalry of Oman. Homebred, the 7-year-old entire was registering a fourth career victory and second on dirt, his previous success having been achieved in a 1200m Sharjah handicap just over two years ago. This was a return to action after two months when he was runner-up to Ainhia Topchef over 1400m here at Al Ain, but reversed that form with that same rival chasing him home on this occasion.

An hour later, it was Al Hadhrami and the Royal Cavalry of Oman who were celebrating doubles courtesy of Salb who took the 2000m maiden in the hands of Omani apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi, partnering his second career UAE winner and first this season.

For the homebred 4-year-old colt it was very much a case of ‘third time lucky’ having finished second, on debut over 1400m here at Al Ain and then filling the same berth over 1200m in Muscat a fortnight later at the end of November. Three months without racecourse action had clearly done him no harm because he proved far too good here, powering clear to win by six lengths to the delight of Al Hadhrami.

The opening 1400m handicap, restricted to horses in private ownership, was won comfortably by Djamer KB under a confident ride from Elione Chaves riding in the predominantly green silks of Mohd Salem Ali Alafreet for trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi. Previously a maiden after seven starts, the 7-year-old entire was caught close home in a maiden over 1800m here at Al Ain on his latest outing a month ago. The drop on trip and application of blinkers certainly seemed to do the trick.


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