GM Hopkins Seeks Abu Dhabi Championship Repeat

Arguably the best meeting of the Abu Dhabi season is Saturday’s six-race card, which features not only the most prestigious Thoroughbred race of the campaign in the capital, the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship, but also the final Purebred Arabian Group 1 of their campaign, the Emirates Championship. Both races are over 2200m and will be contested by previous winners.

The 2019 Abu Dhabi Championship was won by GM Hopkins for Jaber Ramadhan with Pat Cosgrave in the saddle and they team up once again. A 9-year-old gelded son of Dubawi, the best of his four efforts this season was a second behind Godolphin’s American Graffiti in a 2000m Meydan turf handicap, the penultimate of his three Dubai World Cup Carnival appearances. Ramadhan also saddles Barreesh, the mount of Brett Doyle, but last of 12 on his sole DWC Carnival appearance in the Listed Curlin Stakes on dirt. That was, however, his first outing since the beginning of March 2018.

“Both of mine are in very good form and training well,” Ramadhan said. “We know conditions suit GM Hopkins as he won this race last year. Barreesh is a nice horse also. He will appreciate the return to turf, but may find the trip a little bit on the sharp side.”

Trained by Erwan Charpy, Zamaam landed this prize in 2017 for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and, like GM Hopkins, will seek to become the first dual winner of a race inaugurated in 1993. The mount of Fabrice Veron on this occasion, the homebred 10-year-old son of Muhtathir has not won since, but has been performing consistently at Meydan throughout the DWC Carnival after having finished second over 2400m at Abu Dhabi on his seasonal return.

“He has been a great servant and is a grand old horse,” Charpy said. “He likes it at Abu Dhabi and can hopefully run a good race.”

Sheikh Hamdan owns five of the 12 runners with his retained jockeys Jim Crowley and Dane O’Neill electing to partner Hakeem and Almoreb, respectively. Both are trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

South African Mike de Kock won this in 2009 with Mr Brock and in 2018 with Light The Lights. This year he relies on Majestic Mambo, a 5-year-old gelded son of Mambo In Seattle who made his local debut and first start for De Kock when sixth, on Super Saturday 2019, in the 1800m Group 1 Jebel Hatta. All bar one of his seven local appearances have been at the DWC Carnival, but having won all his first three career outings, highlighted by a Listed race success in January 2018 at Turffontein, he has not added to that tally.

The Group 1 Abu Dhabi Championship, which carries a prize fund of AED 1,000,000, was won last year by BF Mughader, trained at the time by Younis Al Kalbani. The 7-year-old entire will be saddled this year by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami, but has not really fired this season, his best effort, arguably, when seventh, over this course and distance, in the Group 1 HH The President Cup.

That race was won by Rmmas for Sheikha Fatma bint Mansoor Al Nahyan and Jean de Roualle. The 7-year-old entire looks sure to go well again.

De Roualle said: “Al Zahir looks a big danger, but my horse is fit and well. Hopefully the ground is not too fast because it was pretty quick last week.”

He was chased home on that occasion by Al Zahir who was seeking a third consecutive victory in the race. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for Sheikh Hamdan, that was his belated seasonal debut and he did win this in 2018.

For HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Eric Lemartinel saddles three, seemingly headed by Mawahib, the mount of Fabrice Veron and joined by stable companions RB Torch and Darius Du Paon.

Lemartinel said: “All three are in good form and should run well, but, as you would expect, it looks a hot race.”