Racing action returns to the UAE on Thursday when Al Ain stages the opening fixture of the new 2020/21 racing season. Racing will be conducted under guidelines from the UAE government, following strict health and safety measures.
The official highlight on the seven race Al Ain card is the finale, a 1000m Purebred Arabian handicap in which course specialist Jayide Al Boraq kicks off his campaign for Khalifa Al Neyadi who also saddles Ellal and Raineing Sand.
The mount of Bernardo Pinheiro, Jayide Al Boraq has raced just seven times, six here at Al Ain where he has five course victories to his name, his sole defeat in ‘the garden city’ suffered when seemingly not staying 1800m on his second career appearance. The 6-year-old remains unbeaten over 1000m, having won on all three occasions he has tackled this minimum trip and Pinheiro has already won three times on him.
Pinheiro said: “Obviously we know conditions suit him and I am really looking forward to getting back on him under his optimum conditions, as well as getting racing again.”
Ibrahim Al Hadhrami also saddles three with Szczepan Mazur seemingly opting to ride Marmara XM who made a winning debut, over 1400m at Al Ain, almost a year ago, but failed to add to that success in three further outings. On her most recent outing she was third, albeit well beaten, behind Jayide Al Boraq, but has plenty of natural speed and as a 4-year-old is open to improvement.
Mazur said: “She is very speedy as we saw in her races last season and we know goes well at Al Ain. It looks a strong race, but she should be competitive.”
Another 4-year-old filly, Winked has the assistance of Richard Mullen, riding for Al Ajban Stud and their resident handler, Abdallah Al Hammadi. Mullen’s mount has only three starts on her CV, winning at the third time of asking at Al Ain over 1600m, at the beginning of March.
The solitary Thoroughbred race on the card is also a 1000m handicap and looks absolutely wide open with a possible case to be made for virtually all nine runners. Heading the weights is Raconteur, trained by Ahmed Al Shemaili and the mount of Ryan Curatolo, riding in the UAE for the first time and since being appointed stable jockey at Nicholas Bachalard’s Jebel Ali Stables. Curatolo’s mount, a 7-year-old Acclamation entire, posted his only victory in a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden in January 2017 when trained by Satish Seemar. Current connections will be hoping a first attempt at both 1000m and Al Ain can help him return to winning ways.
For Seemar and Mullen, Bedaveeya is another with a solitary victory to her credit, in her case a 1000m Sharjah handicap almost two years ago. However, that remains her career standout performance and she has been well beaten both times she has tackled Thursday’s course and distance.
Trained locally by Helal Al Alawi, Sports Reporter looks an interesting new recruit having shown promise after six starts for Richard Fahey in Britain. Partnered by new recruit Akshay Kumar, his best form arguably was on turf, as opposed to his two all-weather outings. The Al Ain dirt surface therefore has to be a question mark for this 3-year-old Dark Angel gelding.