Championship and Classics on the Line at Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club’s meeting on Sunday evening throws up the possibility of unearthing future stars of the Purebred Arabian ranks as the fillies and colts Prestige Classics and the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship get underway.

Won in 2000 (then known as the Group 3 Al Asayl Championship) by multiple Group 1 winner, Nez D’Or, the subsequent winner of the 2002 Dubai Kahayla Classic, the 1600m Abu Dhabi Championship has attracted a field of 12.

The red and white colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan are to be well represented across the card and in this race his trainer, the Al Asayl-based Eric Lemartinel, saddles three.

Stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea has chosen to partner Amwaj, winner of her sole start to date, a 1600m Al Ain maiden four weeks ago.

“I rode her in a trial and she showed a lot of promise but really built on that at Al Ain. She was very impressive there I thought and can hopefully improve again in what is obviously a better race.”

Stable companion, Mawahib boasts an identical profile having landed her only race thus far, a 1600m maiden at Al Ain two weeks ago.

Gerald Avranche, who is based with Lemartinel, rides her with the yard’s third runner, Tahany, a 1600m course and distance winner last Sunday, the mount of Antonio Fresu.

The fascinating contender is local debutant, Maisoor owned and bred by the Royal Cavalry Oman and unbeaten after five starts in Muscat.

This will be his first turf outing, as well as a first UAE runner for trainer Said Al Badi but he has won over 1600m three times and looks a big danger to the Al Asayl contingent.

Owner and breeder, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, is enjoying another fruitful campaign and is responsible for both AF Nafece and AF Al Sajanjle.

The latter is the choice of Richard Mullen and won his only previous outing, a 1600m maiden here at Abu Dhabi.
AF Nafece, the mount of Rafael de Oliviera, is making his debut with both the owner’s runners trained by Ernst Oertel.

The 1400m Abu Dhabi Fillies’ Classic opens proceedings with five debutantes facing 11 rivals who can boast two victories between them.

Winner of her only race to date, on the Sharjah dirt over 1200m, the Ibrahim Aseel-trained ES Tango has to be respected trying turf for the first time.

A 1000m maiden winner at Sharjah, the Helal Al Alawi-trained Areej Al Gharbia was far from disgraced when third in a 1400m conditions race at Abu Dhabi four weeks ago.

Of the debutantes, Asyad, for the Al Asayl team and the choice of O’Shea makes the most appeal.

The colts’ equivalent has attracted a field of 14 with AF Maher appearing to have serious claims for the Al Nabooda/Oertel and Mullen combination.

Easy winner of his only start, a 1200m maiden at Sharjah, he was chased home on that occasion by Zeyada, back in opposition for O’Shea and Team Al Asayl.

The main danger could be AF Monsef, owned by his breeder, Al Nabooda, when making a winning debut in early November over 1400m at Abu Dhabi.

Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, he has subsequently been sold to HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum for whom he was third, a fortnight ago, over Sunday’s course and distance.

The only Thoroughbred race is a 2400m handicap and Satish Seemar has plenty of chances, saddling no less than seven of the 16 runners.

Stable jockey, Mullen partners Layali Al Andalus with the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Mutual Force looking a big threat to the Seemar septet.

Emirati apprentice, Saeed Al Mazrooei seeking a seventh victory on the horse on whom he won over 2200m at Abu Dhabi six weeks ago, takes the ride.