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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Ellal looks to build on debut victory at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club

Six-race card in the UAE capital on Sunday features five races for Purebred Arabians and one thoroughbred handicap

Eric Lemartinel has four horses running in the first race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, including Ellal. Reem Mohammed / The National
Eric Lemartinel has four horses running in the first race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, including Ellal. Reem Mohammed / The National

Eric Lemartinel-trained Ellal will be aiming to build on his impressive race debut when the three-year-old Purebred Arabian takes his place in the first of Sunday’s six-race card at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

Ellal produced a remarkable performance in the Yas Island Purebred Arabian Maiden on November 3, obliterating the 16-horse field to win by more than six lengths over the 1,400-metre distance.

Ellal, who is one of four horses trained by Lemartinel in the race, will now aim to make it two wins from two in the Dh80,000 Baynounah for Purebred Arabians, and Lemartinel's stable jockey Pat Cosgrave has high hopes for the horse.

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“He’s a good horse with a lot of potential,” Cosgrave said after Ellal’s win three weeks ago. “He’s got a lot of good qualities in him. He’s big and possesses a good cruising speed.

“Coming in to a racecourse for the first time was a good education run for him as well and hopefully he can keep improving.”

Abu Dhabi’s six-race card consists of five races for Arabians and one for thoroughbreds, which has drawn the maximum 14 entries.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid will have three entries in the thoroughbred handicap race, run over 1,400m, with Fawaareq, Azmaam, and Tafaakhor all competing. Tafaakhor is the choice of the owner’s retained jockey Dane O’Neill.

Tafaakhor, a four-year-old gelding, was twice a winner when trained by Richard Hannon in England, but hasn’t won in eight local starts. Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe is hopeful a first run on Abu Dhabi’s turf track can bring about change.

“He’s arriving with a run under his belt and we think he can improve, especially over the shorter 1,400m distance and returning to turf,” the Emirati trainer said.

Carrying the most weight – 60-kilograms – is local debutant Fawaareq, one of two horses in the thoroughbred race to be saddled by UAE champion trainer Doug Watson.

Fawaareq, who has been draw in Gate 14, won three times in Britain when trained by Owen Burrows, but is returning for his first run since October 2017.

“Fawaareq has some very good form in Europe and is a nice new horse in the yard, one we are very much looking forward to running,” Watson said. “We have actually had him about a year but were unable to get him to the races last season, but with a summer on his back, we hope is going to do well. He has an awful draw, though.”

The concluding race, the Dh90,000 Al Reem Purebred Arabian Handicap, is the most valuable prize of the Arabian races and looks a wide open contest.

Narjes, ridden by Richard Mullen, heads the weights as Emirati trainer Helal Al Alawi bids for to achieve 100 career winners.

Lemartinel has three horses entered – Bainoona, Ras Sena and RB Brick House – while MH Tawag, trained by Elise Jeane, and Ernst Oertel’s AF Sheham are also set to challenge.