Hareer Al Reef wins final leg of Al Ain Marathon Series - GulfToday

Hareer Al Reef wins final leg of Al Ain Marathon Series


Hareer Al Reef, ridden by Bernardo Pinheiro, races towards the finish line to win the Al Ain Marathon Series.

Racing at Al Ain on Saturday was highlighted by the finale, The Al Ain Marathon Series (Final Leg) a 5100m handicap afforded Prestige status, ultimately dominated by the two horses prepared by Abdalla Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, Hareer Al Reef denying Balad Al Reef.

Only six went to post with Jeemi leading from the outset, stalked by Bernardo Pinheiro who refused to leave the inside rail on the eventual winner, the other quintet all opting to ride slightly wide.

Pinheiro went to the front with about 2200m remaining and was probably never headed thereafter with Balad Al Reef, thrice a previous winner of this race, trying to challenge in the straight, but never getting to his full-brother, two years his junior.

The winner, an entire 8-year-old, had finished second on both previous attempts at this trip, last year behind Octave, another stable companion, and in 2019 when Balad Al Reef landed the prize for a third time. Ajjaj, winner of this in 2018 and victorious in the opening two legs of the series this season, never really threatened, finishing well beaten in third.

For horses in private ownership, the opening 1000m handicap was won comfortably by Tadhg O’Shea aboard AF Thobor who was prominent throughout before dashing clear about halfway. Like in so many of these private owners’ races, it was another win for Ernst Oertel and Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda who also bred the winner.

Now a 10-year-old, it was a seventh career success for the entire, sixth on dirt and fourth at 1000m, including scoring thrice over this course and distance.  

A 2000m maiden was turned into a rout by Al Mansour NF, apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi performing the steering for Byerley Racing and Helal Al Alawi who trains locally. Twice runner-up in his previous eight starts, both times over 1400m here in Al Ain, the 4-year-old grey colt entered the final bend in about fourth, travelling strongly and hugged the inside rail, saving ground.

Eased to the front with more than 400m remaining, he was never going to be caught and Al Alawi said: “He deserved that after some good runs in defeat, both here and on the Abu Dhabi turf. He is versatile, clearly stays well and can hopefully build on this.”

A maiden over 1800m, restricted to 4-year-olds foaled in the UAE, went to the Al Asayl team.

Homebred, the colt was opening his account at the seventh attempt and, despite still showing signs of inexperience, ran out the comfortable winner, bettering his previous best, a third place finish, on his latest outing, over 2000m here at Al Ain, just last Friday.

Owner and trainer were then denied a double in the following 1800m maiden for fillies and mares, Fabrice Veron and Sundus having to settle for second behind the impressive Jouna who was making it third time lucky in her fledgling career. Homebred by Yas Racing, the 4-year-old filly was runner-up on both her first two career starts, over 1600m and then 2000m on this Al Ain surface where she is trained by Jean-Claude Pecout whose previous two UAE winners were both achieved by Brraq, winner of Al Maktoum Challenge R1 and the concluding third round, both Group One contests.

The 1800m handicap produced a pulsating finish with apprentice Saif Al Balushi, who always looked confident, delivering Pharitz Oubai to lead in the very final strides, denying Dream De Montjoi with Taajer on both their girths in a very close third. Checked over by the vet before the race, the 6-year-old gelding had actually failed to win any of his 15 previous starts, but was finally off the mark for trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and owner HE Al Sh Nasser Mohd Nasser Al Hashar.

His 13 dirt outings, prior to this, had seen him finish second on five occasions and third on a further four.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card was a 1600m maiden which provided Welcome Surprise the perfect opportunity to open his career tally, pulling well clear of 12 rivals under Sandro Paiva, riding for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and also supplying owner Karwan Barzani with a breakthrough success, on the eighth occasion his silks had been carried in a race.

Related articles