24 January 2024

ERA Abu Dhabi Preview

Thursday has the prospect of being a ‘Classic’ night at Abu Dhabi as the four-year-old UAE bred Purebred Arabians take centre stage on a six-race card.

Each carrying a purse of AED100,000 purse, full fields of 16 assemble for both the Abu Dhabi Colts’ Classic and the Abu Dhabi Fillies’ Classic. 

It is the Jaber Bittar-trained Mubeed that catches the eye in the colts’ Classic. A striking nine-length winner on debut at Sharjah, he stretched impressively clear of his rivals as the race went on, suggesting a step up in trip should be taken in his stride. 

Residing on a mark of 87, he will start as the top-rated horse in the race and is very much expected to justify his top billing status. 

Irfan Ellahi’s Jebel Ali Palace Stables is well represented with Royston Ffrench’s pick JAP Awqat leading the yard’s challenge. 

With a course and distance third to his name followed by a dominant victory over the straight six furlongs at Sharjah, he boasts the right profile for a race of this category and could have a massive shout in this. 

Others to note include AH Haizum (Oscar Chavez/Ahmed Al Mehairbi) and LZ Bibi (Saif Al Balushi/Saeed Al Shamsi) both of whom accounted for the useful Magic Touch in their respective maidens, and they can enjoy a piece of the pie if continuing to progress still further. 

The fillies’ version looks a match race between the only previous winners Hathlla and HA Sahaba. The former, the mount of Connor Beasley, brings a staggering 15-length debut success to the fore. That wide-margin win came over a mile on the Al Ain dirt, but she won in gate-to-wire fashion so the stiff 1400m here should suit. Likewise, the second-named was also a debut winner but at Sharjah over 1200m before finding a mile Conditions event won by HM Alchahine too deep. 

Stamina remains a looming question mark and in-form jockey Sandro Paiva has a task at his hands of perfectly timing the fractions aboard the Hamad Al Marar-trainee. 

The thoroughbred handicap over 2400m brings the card to a close and Branwell for team Musabbeh Al Mheiri looks a leading hope. He was a winner over 2200m on the dirt at Meydan last season and has shaped well on all three starts this term including last time out behind the impressive Nevershow Weakness. Richard Mullen claims a rare ride for Oasis Stables. 


O’Shea hopeful the Jacket fits

Zabeel Stables’ retained rider Tadgh O’Shea has opted for Green Jacket. A winner at Jebel Ali last year to break his maiden, he has not quite reached his full potential and was well-beaten in a course and distance handicap last season. He has strong claims if he can find put the right foot forward. 

With more recent form to boast and perhaps the safest shout in the race, Act Of Wisdom makes plenty of appeal following a sixth-placed finish in a Meydan turf handicap over 2400m. He is proven on the Abu Dhabi turf as well with a third-placed finish in a 2200m handicap here on the formbook. 

Ismail Mohammed’s Ala Kaifi (Gabrille Malune) and Al Mheiri’s another runner Al Dhaja(Qais Al Busaidi) are two to relish this staying trip, notably the latter who has kept his best work for late over shorter trips. 

The penultimate race on the card, a 0-100 rated 2200m handicap for the Purebred Arabians, also features a competitive field. Mujazif, ridden by Richard Mullen, looks set to turn the tables on stablemate RB Yas Sir (Sam Hitchcott) from their last face-off in December in which the latter was victorious. GCC Cup runner-up AF Yatwy (Oscar Chavez/Saif Almarar) is also one of 14 in the line-up. 

Last week’s scorer AF Marmuq looks the one to beat again in the opening 1200m handicap (0-85 rated), while Winds Of Fortune, second in a strong handicap on Jewel Crown meeting, may get off the mark on his debut start for trainer Doug Watson in the 1400m handicap (0-70 rated).