France's Al Shamoos Defends Her Title In Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Against Strong Field

The Purebred Arabians undoubtedly take centre stage in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Nov. 24, with the highly anticipated AED 5,000,000 (approximately $1.36 million) Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown. Topping the quality field of 14 are last years’s winner, Al Shamoos, who takes on a tough field, including top-rated Saudi runner Mashhur Al Khalediah.

Trained in France by Charles Gourdain for Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the now 5-year-old mare Al Shamoos was impressive in the capital last November, but did not win again until November and was beaten on her latest start, at Toulouse, four weeks ago. Julien Auge, as he was 12 months ago, and for her two most recent starts, is again in the saddle, and said: “She is a very good mare and clearly goes well in Abu Dhabi. It’s a strong race, but one we are very much looking forward to.”

With a handicap mark of 121, Mashhur Al Khalediah is the highest-rated runner in the race. Trained in the UK by Philip Collington for Athbah Racing, the 5-year-old entire has never actually raced in England, plying his trade on the European mainland. The mount of Jean-Bernard Eyquin, he gained his lofty rating when on his most recent appearance, a close third in the Group 1 Arabian World Cup at Longchamp in October.

Hayyan arrives as a dual Arabian Derby winner, having landed the UK race in Doncaster in September, three months after winning the French equivalent. Victorious in four of his six starts, the 4-year-old, trained by Frederic Sanchez for Yas Horse Racing Management, will be partnered by regular pilot Ioritz Mendizabal.

Unbeaten after four starts for Eric Lemartinel, RB Money to Burn is totally unexposed and could do well here. A course and distance winner on just her second career outing, the 4-year-old filly has never been headed in any of her four outings and has appeared a potential superstar for Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan. Fabrice Veron, aboard for three of her wins, returns.

Lemartinel also saddles Darius Du Paon, the mount of Adrie de Vries and second in the course and distance prep race four weeks ago. The 6-year-old is seeking a first victory since landing a virtually identical race in November of last year. On that occasion he was chased home by Goshawke (trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables), subsequently winner of the 2200m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 at Meydan in March during what was a busy season for the now 5-year-old. Fourth in the prep, he is reunited with Fernando Jara, who has been aboard for all four of the horse’s career victories.

The only Thoroughbred race is a 2200m handicap and the maximum allowed field of 14 have been declared in what appears a very competitive event. Pat Dobbs and Doug Watson combine with Native Appeal, who should go close for Mohd Khalif Al Basti. Jim Crowley, riding locally for the first time in the UAE this season, will be aboard Mudarrab for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He is trained by Erwan Charpy, as is the same owner’s Mujeeb, the mount of Dane O’Neill. Murray River, a nice spare ride for Adrie de Vries and first ever runner in the colours of Pegasus International LLC.

Adding variety to the six-race card are two International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing (IFAHR) contests: the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship and the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Apprentice Jockey Championship.