ERA Abu Dhabi Preview
Abu Dhabi play host to an exceptional renewal of the HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown this Sunday (8.45pm) as the Capital venue celebrates the culmination of the Sheikh Mansoor Arabian Racing Festival.
There will be no Al Ghadeer on Sunday, but international representation is still strong and they go hoof to hoof with some of the best turf horses from the UAE in search of their lion share of the 5,000,000 AED prize pot.
The presence of the likes of Abbes and Nour Al Maury add intrigue to a race full of depth and, having won six of his last seven starts, the former will feature on many Pick 6 forms.
Three of those victories were achieved at the highest level with Abbes’ only defeat seeing him finish second to Ch’ezza in The President Of The UAE Cup at Longchamp.
The six-year-old exacted some revenge on that rival recently, but surprisingly he hasn’t been seen since that victory in August.
Given he would have been a leading protagonist in the Arabian World Cup, his absence is a little disconcerting however, on the flip side, he is at least fresh for this and rates a leading contender given the strength of his form in Qatar last winter.
Nour Al Maury is also an intriguing runner having won five of her six starts, including when finishing ahead of Thakeera Al Shahania when proving best of the four-year-old French fillies in the Group 1 Qatar Arabian Trophy last time. T
hat was her fourth win at the highest level on the spin, so clearly, she can’t be underestimated, even if she does now take on the boys for the first time.
In summary, the Jewel Crown is a tough race for the locals to win with the contest arriving at the start of their campaign whereas the Europeans arrive hard fit. With that in mind, the vote goes to ABBES in the hope that connections simply opted to miss the Arabian World Cup (had run below-par in the race twice before) rather than were forced too. He had beaten Ch’ezza in August and that is once again fancied to be the forecast. Nour Al Maury can complete a French clean sweep with Ajrad Athbah looking best of the locals.
San fancied to defend his National Day Cup title
While the Grade 1 Jewel Crown is the marquee event on Sunday’s card, the Thoroughbred event which closes an enthralling day promises to be a cracker.
The Listed Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup (9.45pm) has drawn a maximum field hoping to capture the AED 380,000 first prize with last year’s winner San Donato sure to be popular.
Rated 112, the seven-year-old defied a long absence to lift this event 12 months ago, fighting off Shadwell-owned duo Alfareeq and Haqeeqy in the hands of Pat Dobbs.
The Doug Watson-trained son of Lope De Vega produced a fine turn of foot to quicken clear and, if in the same form a year on, could prove tough to resist given he wound up the last campaign finishing within four lengths of Danyah in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint.
Bhupat Seemar, fresh from a sparkling treble at Meydan on Friday evening, is three-handed with Tadgh O’Shea aboard Western Writer, Jim Crowley booked for Laneqash and Rakeez completing the triumvirate with Andrew Slattery in the saddle.
Western Writer found the Capital venue a happy hunting ground last term, winning both of his opening starts of the campaign at Abu Dhabi, over 1600m and 1400m respectively.
He found the Ras Al Khor Conditions event (1400m) won by Al Suhail a little too hot to handle when sixth behind the cosy winner and runner-up San Donato (Haqeeqy 8th, Laneqash 9th), but may reduce that deficit at one of his favoured tracks.
Laneqash may not have cut much ice that day, but that was his first start for the yard after leaving Roger Varian in the UK and he may be a different proposition having had chance to acclimatise.
The final member of the trio, Rakeez, ran a blinder when all wrong at the weights on his final start last season, finishing an honourable fourth to Global Storm in the 2410 Dubai City Of Gold at Meydan.
However, Sunday’s race may not make maximum use of his confirmed stamina. The combination of Michael Costa and Ben Coen will also attract supporters with Boosala, formerly trained by William Haggas, unlikely to want for any fitness on his debut for Jebel Ali Stables.