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Al Ain Racecourse Stages Inaugural National Day Cup Meeting Saturday

Three Group 1 Winners Number in Eight-Strong Field

Al Ain Racecourse’s third meeting of the season is highlighted by the inaugural running of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup, an AED500,000 Conditions event over 1800m.

Eight runners have been declared for the race, including three Group 1 winners whose ranks are arguably headed by Haajeb, victorious in last season’s Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R2, over 2200m, at Meydan Racecourse.

Saddled then by Nacer Samiri, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Haajeb is now prepared by Majed Al Jahouri and, with the benefit of a Meydan outing last week under his belt, should be cherry ripe for this

Polish jockey, Szczepan Mazur, aboard at Meydan last Thursday when the pair were a never dangerous fifth in the Group 2 Bani Yas, is again in the saddle.

“He has obviously run well in the past at Al Ain, where he is a winner already,” said Al Jahouri. “He pleased us at Meydan last week and will, hopefully, have improved from that run. We think he will run a big race.”

Like Sheikh Mansour, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has a powerful string of Purebred Arabians and combines with his trainer, Eric Lemartinel, with both Najm Alemarat and RB Rich Surprise.

“This is a great new race and we are very supportive of the initiative,” said Lemartinel. “We run Najm Alemarat and RB Rich Surprise who are both nice horses.

“RB Rich Surprise loves it at Al Ain, as he has shown on his previous visits. His recent win was over 2200m at Abu Dhabi but he has won over course and distance, beating Haajeb in the process. The long straight at Al Ain really suits his style of racing and we think he has a good chance.

“Najm Alemarat also goes very well at Al Ain and should run a big race.

“I really like this ‘new’ National Day Cup. If we can get good horses to the race this time then maybe one day it can become a Group contest and grow from there. Al Ain is a nice track so they deserve to have a good race there.”

Course Director, Faisal Al Rahmani was delighted with the strength of the field and said: “It’s fantastic that the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup has been so well received by owners and trainers. To have Group 1 winners in our first year is a very positive start. We hope the race will continue to grow over the next few years and climb up the pattern.”

Also a Group One winner, albeit in Russia, is Faucon Du Loup who will be having his second start for Elise Jeanne. Richard Mullen, rides.

Another to have won at the highest level is Djet Taouy, trained by Ibrahim Al Hadhrami for the Omani Royal Cavalry. The mount of Pat Dobbs, he is seeking a first victory since June 2014 when a Group 1 winner in Europe.

Of the remainder, UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea partners AF Maqayes for his main employer, Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

“My horse kept on improving last season and won plenty of races as he stepped up in class.

“He ran very well on his return this season at Abu Dhabi and drops in class now after a run at Meydan last week when he ran ok in a Group Two.

“He should run well but I think RB Rich Surprise will be the one to beat.”