Four-Year-Olds Step Up For Round Two

PA Triple Crown continues at ADEC

ABU DHABI EQUESTRIAN CLUB’S Sunday card is highlighted by the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R2 (2200m ) for four-year-old Purebred Arabians.

Eight have been declared, including the first three home from the first round.

That opening leg, a Listed race over 1600m, was won by Sniper De Monlau, ridden by apprentice Hector Crouch for The National Stables-based trainer Helal Al Alawi. It was the four-year-old’s first win at only his second start.

He carries a penalty for that success but was staying on strongly, offering every hope he will cope with this longer trip.

“He ran very well first time and improved a lot for that experience,” said Crouch. “This will be tougher but hopefully he will stay the extra distance and at least go close.”

Crouch’s mount was second on his debut to RV Moulins Monarch in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship, also over 1600m. Trained at Arkan Stables by Hassan Al Hammadi, RV Moulins Monarch was making a winning local debut, having won one of two starts in the US.

However, under a penalty, he was only seventh behind Sniper De Monlau when they met again in the opening round. Experienced Dubai World Cup winning jockey Fernando Jara, in the saddle for both his local starts, remains loyal.

“He was a bit disappointing last time,” explained Jara. “He is better than that and can hopefully bounce back to form.”

As always, prolific owner HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and his Al Asayl Stables-trainer, Eric Lemartinel, are well represented, they will send out three of the eight runners.

The season’s leading jockey Tadhg O’Shea rides Cloe De Faust, a winner on debut before finishing fifth in the Abu Dhabi Championship and following with a close second in Round One.

She meets both Sniper de Monlau and RV Moulins Monarch on better terms here and looks likely to appreciate the extra 600m.

“She was staying on well last time,” said O’Shea. “She is a nice filly and should be competitive in an open race.”

Stable companions Mahbooba, to be ridden by Richard Mullen, winner of her only outing to date, and Gerald Avranche’s mount, Meydan Du Paon, a winner of her second and most recent start, give the team a strong hand.

The Erwan Charpy-trained Cheik Roque was third behind Sniper De Monlau and Cloe De Faust in the first leg but was subsequently disappointing in a 1600 metres Abu Dhabi 0-95 handicap. The French-bred has a riding change this time with former champion jockey Wayne Smith taking over from David Probert.

“His best form in Europe was very good,” said Smith. “Hopefully the step up in trip will suit him and he has to have a big chance.”

Eight are also declared in the only Thoroughbred race, the Abu Dhabi Championship Prep (2200m) with Al Aasfa Stables-trainer Ahmad bin Harmash set to saddle four of them.

Stable jockey, Freddy Tylicki, partners Georgetown, third on all three previous starts this season, including over this course and distance first-up.

However, the one to beat would appear to be local debutant, Khusoosy, homebred by the campaign’s leading owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and winner of half of his eight career starts in England for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

Now at Meydan’s Grandstand Stables with former champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, he looks an interesting recruit to the UAE and should go close under the owner’s retained jockey, Paul Hanagan.

“He is a young horse with low mileage,” said Hanagan. “He has been off since October but seems in good form and, hopefully, will be thereabouts.”

On his last two Abu Dhabi appearances, the Satish Seemar-trained Invincible Strike has made brave attempts to make all and, from his low draw, is likely to do so again and ensure a decent gallop.

On official ratings he has plenty to find but, if allowed an easy lead under Richard Mullen, could potentially be hard to peg back off a low weight.