1.2m Euros on Offer for World`s Richest Purebred Arabian Race at Abu Dhabi

Star-studded Cast to Contest Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown

There’s €1.2m at stake in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Racecourse feature as the second running of the world’s richest Purebred Arabian contest, the €1.2 million Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown-empowered by IPIC gets underway.

Last year’s 1600m contest was won by Kalino, trained in Qatar by Alban de Mieulle for his main patron, Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The seven year old chestnut is back in the UAE capital defend his crown with French star, Olivier Peslier making the trip to take the ride.

“He has proven himself at Abu Dhabi which is obviously in our favour,” said Peslier. “It looks a very strong race, as you would expect for the prize money but this has been his target and we hope for a good run.”

Back to depose the Qatari challenger are last season’s second, French horse, Sahabba, third-placed Thakif and Abhaar who was fourth.

Yet the horse that stands out as the one the remaining 15 have to beat is Al Mourtajez. With 12 wins in 16 starts the six year old is widely recognised as the best Purebred Arabian turf performer on the planet.

Trained in France by Thomas Fourcy, he has won his four most recent starts, all in Group 1 company, culminating with victory in the Qatar Arabian World Cup.

“He is the best,” said his jockey Julien Auge, who has ridden him in all but one of his 16 career starts.

“He is an exceptional racehorse who has plenty of speed for this 1600m, but also stays 2400m well.”

Trainer Fourcy added: “He seems in great form and it is very exciting to be here in Abu Dhabi for such a prestigious occasion.

“The draw in stall five looks ideal and we are really looking forward to the race.”

The six-year-old is not infallible, as he showed when suffering a shock defeat in February’s HH The Emir’s Sword in Doha, a race he had won comfortably in 2015.

The three American challengers are automatically at a major disadvantage because, in their homeland, they race on dirt and left-handed whereas Abu Dhabi is right-handed and turf.

However, trainer Terri Eaton clearly does not see that being an issue for his challenger, Sand Victor, seeking a first Group 1 victory and making his turf debut.

“He is in wonderful form and raring to go,” said an ebullient Eaton who has booked Pat Dobbs for the ride. “We have a great draw in four and we are certainly going to try and take the trophy home to America.”

Dobbs was aboard Sand Victor’s old rival and most recent victim, Paddy’s Day who had a pipe opener when fifth at Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

Yet having failed to beat a rival in this race last year it is hard to see the five year old troubling the principals.
Paddy’s Day will be ridden by American Hall Of Fame jockey, Calvin Borel who Abu Dhabi racegoers will have the chance to watch in action.

Borel is actually unbeaten on Scott Powell’s stable star whom he partnered to victory in September at Churchill Downs when beating another of Sunday’s US-based rivals, Thess Is Awesome.

Winner of the Sheikh Zayed Cup US Triple Crown in each of the last two years, Paddy’s Day is drawn wide in stall 15, just as he was last year.

“I am hoping for a better performance this year,” said a rueful Powell. “We would have preferred a lower draw though.”
It is not all about the international challenge though with the aforementioned pair Thakif and Abhaar both based in Abu Dhabi.

However, this year’s Kahayla Classic winner, the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained AF Mathmoon, could be the main UAE hope.

That big race victory was on dirt at Meydan but he was also victorious in the Group 1 Liwa Oasis, over 1400m, on the Abu Dhabi turf last season.

Reacting to his charge’s draw in ten, Al Mheiri said: “A wide draw is not an issue as he was in stall 14 when he won the Kahayla Classic.

“We hope he can run a big race in a very good field.”