Arif, ridden by Szczepan Mazur, wins the Shabyat Al Rawdah Handicap at Al Ain on Friday.
Seven races at Al Ain on Friday evening were officially highlighted by a 1400m handicap which was turned into a procession by Arif, one of several winners on the card to benefit from positive tactics and second to break a track record.
Szczepan Mazur, sporting the silks of the Omani Royal Cavalry for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, was content to track Marzaga for the opening 500m, but then grabbed the initiative before committing for home a long way out, the race in safekeeping entering the final 300m. Homebred, the 8-year-old entire was registering a fifth career victory, third on dirt and second over 1400m having also won over the trip on the Abu Dhabi turf in March 2017.
Mazur said: “I actually won on this horse over a 1000m last season and was then second on him to the very good Jayide Al Boraq.
“He obviously has plenty of natural speed which I was keen to utilise, but he also stays 1400m well, so I was keen to ride him handily and was happy to attack early. Everything went perfectly.”
The fixture kicked off with a handicap over 1800m for horses in private ownership with Asif recording a relatively comfortable success under Fabrice Veron, riding for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami in the colours of Mohd Rashid Al Saadi, celebrating his first UAE winner with his ninth runner.
A 4-year-old colt, he was doubling his career tally on his fourth start and remains unbeaten on dirt, winning his 1600m debut at Muscat in March before two Abu Dhabi turf outings in December.
Never far off the pace, he took up the running as the leaders entered the long Al Ain straight and was involved in a duel with top weight RB Double Down until that rival cried enough with about 150m left and surrendered second place to Amirah in the closing stages.
Hadhrami said: “He is a decent little horse who won well first time in Muscat and has not been disgraced in better class races at Abu Dhabi.
“That was only his fourth start, so he is open to plenty of improvement and he showed a determined attitude which was very pleasing.”
A capacity field of 15 may have gone to post in the 1800m maiden, but the vast majority may as well have stayed at home and only one mattered entering the final 500m when Fernando Jara kicked Kerless Del Roc clear after which the race, as a contest, was basically over.
The track record was lowered in the process. Jara, sporting the predominantly yellow silks of Al Rahmani Racing aboard the 4-year-old colt trained by Ahmed Al Mehairbi, went straight to the front and had the vast majority beaten entering the home turn and the race was in safekeeping halfway up the home straight.