15 February 2020

Emirates Classics Highlight Sunday Abu Dhabi Meeting

Six races in the capital at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club include both the Emirates Fillies Classic and Emirates Colts Classic. Both are Prestige contests over 1600m and restricted to 4-year-olds and appear to be at the mercy of Eric Lemartinel, Fabrice Veron and Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan.

Nine weeks ago they combined to win the 1400m Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic, also a Prestige contest, with the unbeaten Dhafra who was following up a maiden victory over that same course and distance. Not seen since, she was far too good last time, seemingly benefitting from the application of blinkers.

Veron said: “She is a filly we have always really liked, but was quite green when winning on debut, so we put the blinkers on the second time and they really helped her. The extra 200m should not be an issue and we have to be very hopeful.”

On that same card in the middle of December, the same connections also landed the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, again a Prestige race over 1400m, with Maqam. Winner of his previous start, his second career outing over 1200m on dirt at Sharjah, he was far from disgraced three weeks ago in the1600m Shadwell Gold Cup, finishing a fine third against his elders.

A repeat of that effort would make him very hard to beat and Veron added: “He too is a nice young horse who we hope is improving. His two Abu Dhabi outings have been good efforts and, back in his own age group, hopefully he is the one to beat.”

The only Thoroughbred race is a 1400m handicap and, as is the norm in such races in the capital, it appears particularly competitive with the maximum allowed field of 16 going to post. At the bottom of the weights Alkhalifa represents Ali Rashid Al Rayhi with Jim Crowley riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Seeking a second career victory and to add to a 1200m Newbury success as a juvenile in July 2017 for Crowley and Brian Meehan, the 5-year-old Kodiac gelding is making his seasonal debut and first racecourse appearance since early April 2019. It looks significant such powerful connections have persevered with him.

In receipt of an allowance as the only 3-year-old in the race, Raahy owned and trained by Fawzi Nass, has to enter calculations although taking on his battle hardened elders. A gelded son of Brazen Beau, he was highly tried in Britain by George Scott and will be having just his third UAE outing here. Fifth, over 1000m on his dirt debut last Friday, he was ninth in the 1200m turf Dubai Trophy at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, against his own age group, on his first UAE appearance.

With the Satish Seemar yard in such good form, his three contenders merit a second glance with Richard Mullen opting to partner Mazeed, a 6-year-old Street Cry gelding now owned by Al Bait Mutawahed Team having twice scored over 1600m on dirt at Meydan, in November 2017 and February last year for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.

This will actually just be his second career outing on turf, the first was a fourth placing, albeit a distance one, in a maiden over 1800m at Meydan almost three years ago when trained by Mike de Kock.

A rare Thoroughbred runner for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel, Epsilon has the services of the owner’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea and should not be totally dismissed, a comment that also applies to Arroway to be ridden by Royston Ffrench for Salem bin Ghadayer.