Fascinating renewal of Emirates Championship Thursday’s capital highlight

Six races at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Thursday are highlighted by the AED1 million 2200m Group 1 Emirates Championship for which the capacity field of 14 are set to face the starter, including Somoud, winner of the race in both 2020 (for Ahmed Al Mehairbi) and 2021 for current trainer Jean de Roualle.

Yas Racing’s now 9yo entire was fourth when seeking to complete a hat-trick last year and is also a dual winner of HH The President Cup, over the same 2200m course and distance.

He won the prep for that latter race this year, chased home by Mujeeb, but that rival reversed the form in the big race itself.

Saddled by Salem Al Ketbi and partnered by Richard Mullen, Mujeeb was probably unlucky in the prep and was impressive landing HH The President Cup. As a 6yo full horse, the Al Asayl homebred also has youth on his side and seems to be improving whereas Somoud is probably entering the twilight of his fabulous career.

Chasing home Mujeeb and Somoud in that Group One highlight was course specialist Hameem who undoubtedly produces all his best efforts on this Abu Dhabi turf track but perhaps finds this 2200m slightly pushing him in terms of stamina.

That said, he did win the prep for the Jewel Crown over course and distance in November before finishing third in the real thing. Trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, the 6yo entire is seeking a tenth career success, all in the UAE and ninth on this turf track in the capital.

Runner-up to Hameem in that November prep was Ashton Tourettes, not seen in public action since finishing ninth in the Jewel Crown. He was runner-up, by just a neck, to Somoud in the 2022 HH The President Cup, failing to snatch the prize when finishing fast and late.
His absence since the beginning of December has to be a concern but his trainer, Ibrahim Aseel, is capable of getting his horses ready after a break, in this case of 102 days.

Izadi Star, fourth behind Mujeeb, Somoud and Hameem in the oft mentioned HH The President Cup, stays further and should be keeping on at the death with Cristian Demuro a noteworthy jockey booking. Connections will be hoping the race is contested at a strong gallop so his proven stamina can come into play.

Representing the powerful trio of Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea, AF Al Bairaq merits respect for his connections alone but he has mostly struggled since denied by Somoud in the Jewel Crown prep in early November 2020. If Oertel has coaxed him back to something like his best though he could play a part at the business end.

Ajrad Athbah, a second Yas Racing contender, this one to be ridden by Bernardo Pinheiro for Majed Al Jahoori and Pat Dobbs’ mount, Suny Du Loup, trained by Hamad Al Marar, are others to consider in what could be to be a thrilling renewal of the final Group One of the Abu Dhabi campaign.