15 November 2023

ERA Preview Abu Dhabi

Conditions set for a tough battle as trainers Unleash their runners in all Sincerity

A group of strong divisional performers are set to dazzle on the second night of racing in at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Thursday as they come together to do battle in a Conditions event for Purebred Arabians, seemingly the pick among the five contests reserved for the breed on the six-race programme.

The mile run has attracted a field of 14 and, within that group, Jaber Bittar’s Abu Dhabi Championship winner Unleashed seems a top pick just like he did when winning the Listed event over course and distance last December under champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who is once again booked for the ride.

The versatile four-year-old Valiant Boy colt has won twice in five starts, including once over 1600m on Al Ain’s dirt track, and is tipped for another power-packed performance, with further improvement expected over and above the form seen on his final run last season when he placed fifth in the Arabian Triple Crown R1.

Then he trailed Sincerely and Nadia Du Loup, who were second and third respectively and are part of his opposition on Thursday night.

Sulaiman Al Ghunaimi’s French import Nadia Du Loup upended her rivals on her UAE debut in the HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Al Nahyan Racing Festival Cup last December, but her level dropped thereafter when upped on the class rung for the Listed Arabian Triple Crown series.

That might have been the case for Helal Alalawi’s Sincerely too as his form nosedived with every subsequent race. Alalawi also saddles UAE debutante Haka Du Soleil, winner of the PA Group 3 Prix Dormane in April at La Teste De Buch in France, who should be running purely to shake off some rust.

Bahwan won all his starts in Poland before a run at Doncaster gave him a reality check. Now in the care of Adil Mouchahi, he will look to hit the ground running on what is his UAE debut. 

Abubakar Daud-trained Beau Du Soleil won a 1200m maiden sprint here, while Majed Al Jahoori’s Aarif should progress from his gruelling debut at Jebel Ali a fortnight ago, a race in which he placed a distant seventh.

Supplementing the Purebred Arabian action are a pair of handicaps one over 1600m (0-65) and the other a sprint for horses rated upto 80, and a pair of maidens over 1400m, one dedicated to three-year-olds bred in the UAE.

Racing concludes with the sole Thoroughbred event, a handicap (0-85) that will also be run over 1600m.

Going by the early form of both trainer Ahmad bin Harmash and jockey Connor Beasley, three-time winner in Britain Al Maysan stands out despite not really having found his mojo here in the UAE in seven starts. The only reason for being optimistic about the six-year-old Dubawi gelding is the fact he finished a close third in a 2400m handicap at Abu Dhabi in March.

That said, Ahmed Al Shemaili’s Chosen Mark ended last year’s campaign with a course and distance win and seems to genuinely like the surface here, but not as much as he seems to enjoy running at the far more demanding Jebel Ali track over which he has surprisingly won thrice.

Champion trainer Doug Watson saddles a pair for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum in Silver Jubilee (Sam Hitchcott) and Razzle Dazzle (Pat Dobbs), while Bhupat Seemar dispatches Ranchero (O’Shea) and Poster Paint (Pat Cosgrave), the latter a course and distance winner from two seasons ago.