Brass Ring And Empoli Share Abu Dhabi Sunday Spotlight

A six-race fixture at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday concludes with the sole Thoroughbred race on the card, a wide open 2200m handicap in which the weights are headed by Brass Ring, a 2400m winner in the capital on his latest start nine weeks ago.

Trained by Ismail Mohammed, the 9-year-old Rail Link gelding was making his seasonal debut on that occasion and clearly appreciated the drop in class, having been campaigned in Group and Dubai World Cup Carnival company since arriving in the UAE in 2015. He has not been straightforward, with Mohammed having only managed to get him to the track six times since joining him, but the ability clearly remains.

Mohammed said: “He is a nice horse who has endured a few problems along the way, but is talented, in good form and should run well in an open contest.”

When victorious nine weeks ago, Brass Ring was chased home by Doug Watson runner Basateen as well as stable mate Empoli coming in fourth. The latter is set to take his chances again today, after being denied racing room at a crucial stage during the 2400m contest. A Group 1 winner at four in Cologne, Germany, the 9-year-old Halling gelding recorded his only subsequent success over course and distance in November 2017, but never threatened in two January Meydan outings since. However, he seems to prefer Abu Dhabi’s tighter 2000m oval to the UAE’s flagship 2400m Meydan turf.

Stable companion G K Chesterton has yet to fire in four starts for the yard, but is dropping in grade and starting to appear well handicapped.

“Empoli likes it at Abu Dhabi and hopefully has a good chance,” Watson said. “We are getting to know G K Chesterton who we hope will run well and both are in good form at home.”

Another veteran with Group 1 form is Farrier, trained by Satish Seemar and runner-up in the 1800m Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday in 2016. Yet to win on turf, the 11-year-old gelded son of Tapit was most recently victorious in the 2017 Listed Jebel Ali Stakes over 1950m on the course he has recorded four of his five victories. Interestingly, Farrier made a winning racecourse debut on Tapeta at Meydan almost exactly seven years ago.

Seemar has his team in fine form, while Erwan Charpy is another handler enjoying a good spell. It would be no surprise to see the latter’s Juthoor hitting the board in this contest. On just his second start for the Frenchman the His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum owned 4-year-old Shamardal gelding was impressive when landing a 1600m handicap here in the capital a fortnight ago.

During the early weeks of the 2018-19 racing season, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel combined to land both the 1400m Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic and Abu Dhabi Colts Classic over the same trip. They will be hoping to emulate that success in the Emirates Fillies Classic and Emirates Colt Classic over a mile, with the quartet of races carrying the unique UAE Prestige status.

Nine weeks ago, making her debut and only start to date, AF Mouthirah was never headed in the fillies’ race under the owner’s retained jockey Tadhg O’Shea and looks to complete a Classic double. For the same owner and trainer, AF Saab, who has since joined Musabbeh Al Mheiri in the ownership of His Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, won the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic on what was his second outing. However, the one to beat could well be Ellal, trained by Eric Lemartinel for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who registered a comfortable victory on his sole outing to date in a 1400m Abu Dhabi maiden at the very first fixture of the campaign in early November.