10 January 2024

ERA Abu Dhabi Preview

The AED300,000 Group 3 Al Ruwais headlines Thursday’s seven-race card at Abu Dhabi, a fixture which also features a pair of Listed events. 

Italian jockey Cristian Demuro is currently operating at a strike rate of fifty per cent in the Capital’s premier racetrack and he has bagged another impressive book of rides. 

National Stables’ retained rider, Demuro partners RB Kingmaker in the HH The President Cup Prep which now carries Listed status and sees a top field go to post for the 2200m contest as they all bid to solidify their claims for the AED2.5million Group 1 showpiece in a month’s time. 

The Helal Alalawi trained four-year old was fourth behind the world’s best Arabian racehorse Al Ghadeer in the French Arabian Derby last year and looked to have needed the run on his UAE comeback finishing only midfield but was seen to good effect in the Jewel Crown beating all the re-opposing local rivals, including the highly fancied and 121-rated Mujeeb

The latter has tougher circumstances to negotiate with a 4kg penalty owing to his Group 1 success last year and, given his off-the-pace running style, the weight will be felt manifold. Regular rider Richard Mullen partners the grey again. 

Splitting them in ratings is another Alalawi trainee in Soko (Abdul Aziz Al Balushi), last seen finishing a distant fifth in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3. At 117, he will start as the second-highest rated horse in the race but will have to turn back the clock a couple of years to perform at that level. 

Among the rest, Joe Star (Tadgh O’Shea) comes in with winning momentum having landed the UAE Arabian Derby a month ago. If he is to topple the principals, he will have to up his game a few notches. 



Perhaps the most fascinating prospect in the Arabian scene this season has been HM Alchahine, who runs in the four-year-old restricted Listed Abu Dhabi Championship. Two out of two in his career so far, he has been eye-catching on both occasions including when winning over course and distance on Jewel Crown evening under Demuro. The form of that win and two prior ones have all been well franked across racetracks to the extent that even the last-placed horse from his Al Ain trial went on to win on debut at Sharjah last weekend! 

Several of these will try to turn the tables on the Helal Al Alawi-trainee and Jina’an holds the best prospects for doing so. On two occasions, the Majed Al Jahoori filly has seen the back of HM Alchahine but has displayed great potential in defeat. She easily looks the best of the remainder and will be there to pounce if the favourite is having an off day. 

Interestingly, jockey Bernardo Pinheiro has swayed the way of impressive recent maiden winner Ammar over the filly. One is free to infer if that is a calculated decision by the Brazilian or a blind shot at the favourite with a more unknown type. 



The only Graded event of the card, the 1200m Al Ruwais, looks a wide-open affair. AF Alajaj, the mount of Tadgh O’Shea, won the Group 2 Liwa Oasis here over 1400m last campaign but was disappointing on reappearance in the Bani Yas at Meydan. He will have to be at his best to land this.

Less than a length separated Bahar Muscat and Ashton Tourettes in the mile National Day Cup. The latter won this race in 2021 but has since been mostly campaigned, with plenty of success, over much farther while the first mentioned name has also shown plenty of speed in his races. There are plenty of improvers in this race with course winner Jazeelah possibly the pick of them.

The card closes with a 1600m 0-75 handicap for the thoroughbreds in which Arabian Tale for Bhupat Seemar and Tadgh O’Shea looks to hold the key following his excellent third on debut behind stablemate Nevershow Weakness. A card-opening 1000m maiden and a 1600m maiden, split into two divisions, both for the Purebred Arabians complete the quartet of non-Stakes races on the programme.