Plenty to look forward to Racing at Meydan on Friday

Racing at Meydan on Friday, the track’s second fixture of the new season, features a high quality 1400m handicap, as well as the first major Purebred Arabian contest of the fledgling UAE campaign.

The latter, the Group 2 Bani Yas is also 1400m and has attracted a field of 14, the weights headed by AF Alajaj, penalised for his victory in the 1600m Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah, on this dirt surface, in February.

Homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, he has the assistance of the owner’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea and is trained by Ernst Oertel whereas the second Al Nabooda runner, Shabib Alreeh, is in the care of rookie handler Nisren Mahgoub who has booked Dane O’Neill to take the ride.

Oertel also saddles Iridesse, the mount of Richard Mullen and receiving weight from all bar one of her 13 rivals. A 7yo mare, she would appear to hold a strong chance.

AF Sanad, Heros De Lagarde, Nadelshiba, Namrood and Thayer Athbah all appear to hold claims in a competitive looking renewal of the race established in 2000 on turf at Ghantoot.

The Thoroughbred highlight, the aforementioned 1400m handicap features the eagerly awaited return Meshakel, not seen in public for 610 days on which occasion, as a 3yo, he routed six rivals in a 1600m conditions race, on this track and surface, restricted to his own age group.

That was in early March 2021 before he met with a setback. His trainer, Salem bin Ghadyer, explained: “He missed last season having suffered a problem which required surgery. We have crossed that bridge now and he is ready to go again.
“We coud not be happier with him at home but he does have top weight and not a great draw in eight, so we will see how he goes.”

With the defection of Twaasol, he is set to face seven rivals including the admirable Celtic Prince, a fine third, under a big weight, over 1600m on this course last week. A 7yo, all three of his career victories have been over that extra 200m than he faces here, but he has never finished out of the first three in nine Meydan appearances.

Richard Mullen, in the saddle seven days ago and for the gelding’s most recent success, up the Jebel Ali hill at the end of February, maintains the partnership for Rashed Bouresly.

Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddles both Raaeb and Alkaamel for Shadwell whose retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, has elected to ride the latter, proven under these conditions.

A 6yo gelded son of Havana Gold, he has won five times, twice in the UAE, both at Meydan, over 1600m on this surface and over this 1400m trip but on turf, the latest time he tasted victory in early January.

Al Mheiri’s stable jockey Antonio Fresu partners Raaeb, making his debut for the yard having previously represented Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, winning four times in Britain, thrice on all-weather surfaces.

From a pair of Doug Watson runners for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, Pat Dobbs rides Cairn Island leaving the mount on bottom weighted stablemate Aquaman for Sam Hitchcott.

Island Rule, representing Ahmad bin Harmash with Ray Dawson in the saddle, completes the octet and will be having just his seventh career start and hoping to double his career tally having not scored since his 1400m debut, at Jebel Ali, in late November 2021.
Now a 5yo, the gelding’s penultimate appearance was when fifth in the 1600m Group 3 Firebreak Stakes before a disappointing handicap effort over Thursday’s track and trip.