Racing`s Busy Trails Lead To Capital

Both breeds feature at ADEC

THE ABU DHABI EQUESTRIAN CLUB’S meeting on Sunday will bring the curtain down on a hectic four days of UAE racing.

The six race card is highlighted by two AED100, 000 handicaps, one for Purebred Arabians, the other for Thoroughbreds.

A select field of five Purebred Arabians has been declared for the Al Taweelah Handicap (1600m) but, despite the lack of numbers, it looks competitive.

Al Asayl trainer Eric Lemartinel saddles two runners for prominent owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Tadhg O’Shea choosing to ride Hamza, leaving Wayne Smith to pick up the spare ride on Al Dheeb.

Hamza made a wining local debut in a 1400m course maiden in November and that remains his sole career win from seven starts. He has raced three more times in the UAE, most recently when fourth in the Listed opening round of the Arabian Triple Crown, over the same 1600m course and distance as Sunday’s race.

“He is quite a quirky character,” said O’Shea. “So hopefully the small field will suit him.
“He won his local debut well, over 1400m at Abu Dhabi and this looks a good opportunity to get his head back in front.
“The Erwan Charpy runner looks the one to beat.”

The Charpy-trained runner is Cheik Roque, one place in front of Hamza in the Arabian Triple Crown Round One when making his local debut. Stable jockey David Probert maintains the partnership.

“We were certainly pleased with his first run,” said Charpy. “It was a very good effort and hopefully he has improved with the run under his belt.
“He has a lot in his favour but, even though there are only five runners, at least three have a good chance."

Only a neck split Hamza and Cheik Roque on that occasion and with the pair meeting on identical terms it should be close again.

Not far behind in fifth, was Badira De Monlau who is weighted to finish closer his time. A maiden after four starts, two locally, she is trained by Helal Al Alawi and is to be ridden by Royston Ffrench.

However Cheik Roque fares, Charpy will also have a major contender in the Thoroughbred contest, the Al Shahamah Handicap (2200m) when he saddles Amaan.

The seven-year-old is the chosen ride of Paul Hanagan, retained jockey to owner-breeder HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The former British Champion was aboard in a course and distance win in February 2014 and when Amaan posted a promising third, over 1600m, at Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

“He has been running well,” said Charpy. “He won at Jebel Ali at the opening meeting and has put in good performances at Al Ain and Abu Dhabi on his two most recent starts.

“They were both over 1600m and he should appreciate the return to 2200m. We are pretty hopeful of a good run.”

Dane O’Neill retained as second jockey by Sheikh Hamdan partners the owner’s other runner, Mustadhaf, trained by Musabah Al Muhairi.

That gelding is seeking a first UAE victory at the fifth attempt.

With trainer Satish Seemar enjoying a superb run of form, his four runners must be taken seriously.

Stable jockey, Richard Mullen, who rode three winners for the yard on the second Dubai World Cup Carnival card at Meydan on Thursday, has been named to ride Signs In The Sand, yet to win in 25 UAE outings and who last visited the Winner’s Circle in October 2010.

The eight-year-old gelding mount should at least appreciate the return to turf having run on dirt his past three outings and this does look his best opportunity for some time to get back to winning ways with the handicapper seeming to have given him a big chance.

Hunters Creek was a 2400m winner on the course four weeks ago and Royston Ffrench again rides for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer. The five-year-old will have to contend with the wide draw of Gate 11.
“He did it in good style last time,” said Ffrench. “The slightly shorter trip should not be a problem but we could have been drawn better.”