O’Shea and Ffrench take two on the dirt at Al Ain

Jockeys Royston Ffrench and Tadhg O’Shea, as well as trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, were all in double form at Al Ain on Friday afternoon.
Najem S’Heel carries Tadhg O’Shea to the winner’s circle in Race 6 at Al Ain. Antonie Robertson / The National
Najem S’Heel carries Tadhg O’Shea to the winner’s circle in Race 6 at Al Ain. Antonie Robertson / The National

Jockeys Royston Ffrench and Tadhg O’Shea, as well as trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, were all in double form at Al Ain on Friday afternoon.

Champion jockey O’Shea’s double was highlighted by the smooth success of Najem S’Heel in the official feature, a 1,000-metre conditions race, the opening leg of the Al Ain Sprint Series and the final race on the card.

“He has plenty of speed and likes dirt so conditions were never an issue,” O’Shea said. “But, on official ratings, he faced a stiff task so this is a nice surprise.”

The jockey had earlier steered the Helal Al Alawi-trained Mazaha to victory in a 1,600m conditions contest.

Ffrench and Al Hadhrami combined for their doubles with pride of place going to Zeyad in a 2,600m handicap, the opening leg of the Al Ain Marathon ­Series.

An Al Ain winner at his previous start over 1,700m, he coped admirably with the extra distance yesterday and looks a useful staying prospect.

“That looked a decent handicap and he has won well,” Ffrench said. “He clearly likes this dirt surface and stays very well.”

Racing opened with an 1,800m maiden and AL Mukafih, having his fourth career start and first on dirt, won for the same ­connections.

In front a long way out, Ffrench’s mount was headed at the 200m pole, only to fight back and lead again close to home.

“He was brave and really battled when I asked him,” Ffrench said.

The only thoroughbred contest, a 1,600m handicap, looked ultra competitive on paper but turned into a match between Beachy Head and Shihab.

The former looked the likely winner 400m out but could not withstand the challenge of Shihab, ridden by Richard Mullen for Satish Seemar.

“He deserved that having been second on both his previous starts this season,” Mullen said. “These dirt surfaces really suit him and, now he has managed a win in the UAE to go with his one in England, hopefully he can follow up.”

Musabah Al Muhairi saddled Alamheer, the mount of Dane O’Neill, to land a 1,400m handicap and post his second Al Ain victory of the season.

sport@thenational.ae

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Published: December 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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