Thoroughbreds Serve Up A Captial Treat

Racing in the capital on Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is undoubtedly highlighted by the sole Thoroughbred contest on the six-race card, a 1600m rated conditions stakes which has attracted the maximum field allowed of 14, as well as one reserve.

Sharing the burden of top weight is Taamol, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with the trainer’s stable jockey Connor Beasley in the saddle on this occasion. The 6-year-old gelded son of Helmet seems to save his best for Abu Dhabi, winning both the track’s Listed races last season, the 1600m National Day Cup before following up over 200m shorter in HH The President Cup. Having scored twice in Britain for Sir Michael Stoute, he has also showed his versatility since joining Al Rayhi with a 1400m handicap success on the Meydan dirt in November 2018.

When winning the aforementioned 1400m HH The President Cup in February he was chased home by stablemate Yaalail, also owned by Sheikh Hamdan. The mount of Sandro Paiva, the 5-year-old Intello gelding also won twice in Europe, in his case France for John Hammond and has added to that with a handicap victory over 1400m at Abu Dhabi.

Al Rayhi said: “Both horses are in good form and run well at Abu Dhabi. This is a good start point for them early in the season.”

Zaman is the horse sharing top weight with Taamol on what will be his first start for Ahmad bin Harmash having formerly represented Charlie Appleby and Godolphin, winning thrice. His biggest success for previous connections was his most recent and only local one, a smooth victory in the 2018 Listed Meydan Classic over 1600m on the Meydan turf. Fernando Jara rides.

Seeking a first winner of the new season, Bin Harmash also saddles Carrington and Bleu Marine, the mounts of Sam Hitchcott and Hugo Lebouc respectively.

From a trio of Satish Seemar runners, Richard Mullen has opted to ride Riflescope who has the benefit of a run under his belt this season, a staying on second over 1400m up the hill on the refurbished Jebel Ali dirt surface. The best of his three previous attempts at 1600m was arguably when sixth to Taamol in last year’s National Day Cup. The distance over which he posted his most recent success was 1200m, on the straight Meydan turf course in February 2019.

That leaves Tadhg O’Shea to partner stablemate Ode To Autumn, who has a low weight to enhance his hopes, with Antonio Fresu picking up the spare ride on Seemar’s third runner, Medahim.

Another former Godolphin runner with a Listed victory to his name, Zorion is making his debut for Helal Al Alawi and, like Zaman, was previously in the care of Charlie Appleby.

However, Appleby took over care of the homebred 6-year-old Smart Strike gelding from Jim Bolger who saddled him to both career victories, most notably the 1600m Listed Glencairn Stakes at Leopardstown in the trainer’s native Ireland. That was in June 2018 and he has not won since, but was second for Appleby in a 2000m Meydan handicap at the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival. He only ran twice subsequently, most recently in January at this year’s carnival.

Salem bin Ghadayer and Royston Ffrench have made strong starts to the season and combine with Mailshot, like Taamool a course and distance winner having won a handicap last October. He was fourth last Thursday in a 2000m handicap on the Meydan dirt, a pleasing enough effort because that is a surface on which he has never really flourished.

Owned and trained by Ismail Mohammed, Wasim actually beat Zaman in the 1400m turf Meydan Classic Trial in 2018, but was a non-runner in the big race itself. A 5-year-old Acclamation entire, he normally goes well on the Abu Dhabi track, including a close second in the 2019 HH The President Cup. However, his three most recent appearances in the capital have seen him finish third in a 1400m handicap behind Yaalail, sandwiched by a fifth and fourth in the National Day Cup and HH The President Cup, as mentioned, both won by Taamol.