Al Ain: Abu Dhabi-based Frenchman Eric Lemartinel looks to hold a strong hand in the 14-runner feature race for Purebred Arabians at Al Ain Racecourse on Friday .
Lemartinel saddles Bigg N Rich, a course and distance winner in a similar race at the track four weeks ago. He will be ridden by James Doyle.
Lemartinel said: “Bigg N Rich won well at Al Ain’s first meeting and seemed to really like the surface. He should go close again.”
Runner-up to Bigg N Rich a month ago was the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained AF Lafeh, who was third in the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge three starts ago. Stable jockey Royston Ffrench, who boasts a 50 per cent strike rate at Al Ain, having ridden three of the six winners at the first meeting, once again takes the ride.
Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel, who saddled a double at Abu Dhabi on Sunday and has his team in great form, is responsible for three of the 14 runners with stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, choosing to ride Richlore. He produced a career best when third behind Bigg N Rich and AF Lafeh at the first meeting.
O’Shea said: “Ernst’s horses have been running well all season and Richlore really enjoyed the Al Ain surface last time and it was a good effort. He obviously needs to improve again but has been working well.”
Stable companion, Fryvolous was fifth behind Bigg N Rich last time and will again be ridden by apprentice Daniel Muscutt, with Adrie De Vries aboard Oertel’s third runner, TM Junior Johnson.
Majed Al Jahouri saddles two with Harry Bentley aboard Thakif looking a stronger contender then Merzal, the mount of UAE apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei.
Bigg N Rich is not the only Al Ain winner seeking a second course success. Earlier on the card, the Helal Al Alawi-trained AF Tharb takes his chance in a 1400m handicap, 200m shorter than the 1600m over which he won last time.
The only Thoroughbred race is a 1600m handicap and Al Farahidi, trained by Abdulla bin Huzaim, must have leading claims after his course and distance second behind Need To Know a month ago. Need To Know has won and finished second since so the form looks strong and the 3kgs claim of Saeed Al Mazrooei is another positive.
The Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Colour Guard, the mount of Wayne Smith was fourth in the race won by Need To Know and certainly seemed to handle the surface.
Adrie De Vries rides Ormindo for his main employer, Ahmad bin Harmash, and could prove a big danger.
He won a 1600m handicap at Meydan on his most recent start, when chased home by Teslin, one of three in this race for Satish Seemar.