Exciting Thoroughbred Youngsters Among Sunday's Abu Dhabi Attractions

Racing at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, at least in terms of prize money, is highlighted by a pair of handicaps, the first over 1600m, the second over 1200m. More about them later.

The only Thoroughbred contest, the concluding 1600m maiden for 4-year-olds only, looks a reasonable event for a race of its ilk with several promising, though obviously thus far winless, types joined by fascinating debutant Waathig.

To be saddled by Nicholas Bachalard for his main employer, Jebel Ali Racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ryan Curatolo’s mount is a 4-year-old gelded son of Tapiture. With a $225,000 price tag as a juvenile in April 2019, he clearly looked the part, both breezing and in the sales ring, so has to be respected in this company on debut.

Bachalard said: “He has had a few little niggles, but is ready for a run. He will improve for it, but it will be nice to see him on the track.”

A case can be made for several on official ratings, including local debutant Law Of Peace, to be ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for Satish Seemar and Nasir Askar.

Second in three of his four starts for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin, the 4-year-old son of Shamardal is out of Certify, a juvenile Group One winner for those same connections.

O’Shea said: “Like all his owner’s horses he has a great pedigree and arrives with good form. He works nicely and hopefully has a big chance.”

Seemar also saddles Mohd Khalifa Al Basti’s Corojo, making his turf bow under Richard Mullen having never been able to get involved, over 1200m at Jebel Ali, on his only previous public appearance last Friday.

He is rated 82, as is the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Welcome Surprise, the mount of Sandro Paiva and having his fourth start for connections after spells with Saeed bin Suroor, in Britain for Godolphin, before starting his UAE career with Doug Watson. His best start, his ninth in total, was arguably his latest, his only local turf outing, when a close second over 1800m in a maiden at Meydan a fortnight ago.

Salem bin Ghadayer has been enjoying a good season, so his pair Tolmount, the choice of Royston Ffrench, and Panoshoshic, one of two fillies in the race, merit consideration. A Dubawi gelding, Ffrench’s mount only ran twice, both on the all-weather, for Appleby and Godolphin, a 1700m fourth place finish as a juvenile at the very end of 2019 followed by a second over 1600m. That was almost exactly 13 months ago.

In the 1200m Purebred Arabian handicap alluded to at the top, AF Majalis arrives in the form of his life, unbeaten all three starts this season, a campaign that he began as a thrice raced maiden. To be saddled by Ernst Oertel for his main patron, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, he will be partnered by the owner’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, as the 5-year-old homebred has been in those three victories. Only raced on the capital’s turf track, the pair landed a maiden over this 1200m course and distance in November, followed by a December 1600m handicap before a 1200m handicap five weeks ago.

Oertel said: “We always liked this horse and he thrived over the summer. We have spread his races out as we hope he is a really nice prospect.”

Without a turf win after four attempts, half his career starts and having scored once on dirt, Jinjal, on his penultimate start, was just a neck behind Oertel’s charge, caught agonisingly in the closing strides.

Antonio Fresu takes over from Fabrice Veron, in the saddle on that occasion, with the latter required to partner the unexposed Almahroosa. A 4-year-old filly prepared by Eric Lemartinel, she has only had six starts, two second places improved upon when she and Veron landed a maiden over this 1200m on her penultimate appearance.

Lemartinel and Veron also appear to have a leading contender in the equally valuable 1600m handicap, courtesy of Asyyad. Seeking a fifth career success, fourth in the capital, the 7-year-old, winner of the December 2017 Listed Abu Dhabi Championship over Sunday’s track and trip, was second, tackling 1400m at this course, on his only outing this season.

Three starts ago, AF Makerah was third, over 1600m, behind stablemate AF Majalis. The 8-year-old mare appears another live chance on the card for the O’Shea, Al Nabooda and Oertel triumvirate.