News

HH President Cup Prep Races Highlight Abu Dhabi Sunday Card

The official prep races for HH The President Cups share top billing at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday.

The Purebred Arabian version has attracted a field of 12, including a quartet owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and trained by Eric Lemartinel who saddled five winners for his main patron last weekend, including an Abu Dhabi treble.

All three of their winners in the capital last Sunday were ridden by Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, who chooses to ride Mahbooba, the winner of four of her five career starts but a Group 3 winner who carries a weight penalty on this occasion.

Lematinel also saddles Abu Alabyad, Nashmee and Shaheer who were second, third and 11th in last year’s Group 1 HH The President Cup over the same 2200m as Sunday’s prep.

“They are four nice horses who are working well and this is an obvious opportunity to demonstrate if they are good enough for a crack at the big race itself,”
said O’Shea. “Mahbooba has done very little wrong and, under her penalty, this will be a serious test for her and the toughest task she has faced."

“We have always really liked her though and she merits a try in this kind of company. Abu Alabyad would probably be the team’s second best chance but Richard Mullen looks the one to beat aboard Loraa.”

Trained by Jean de Roualle for Sheikha Fatima bint Mansour Al Nahyan, for whom she is a first horse in training, Loraa has only had one start in the UAE and was well beaten.

However, that was in the world’s most valuable Purebred Arabian race, the €1.2million Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown.

That was over 1600m though and Sunday’s trip should be far more to her liking.

O’Shea actually rode four winners last Sunday, having also won the sole Thoroughbred contest, a 1400m handicap, aboard Najm Suhail for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

They combine again in the 1400m Thoroughbred version of HH The President Cup Prep with Estidraak, one of four in the race owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“He is a nice new horse from England who has been pleasing us since he arrived but will certainly improve for the run,” said O’Shea. “However, his stable companion, Ghaamer, looks sure to go very close.”
Also owned by Sheikh Hamdan, Ghaamer is the choice of Jim Crowley and won last year’s Listed HH The President Cup itself.

This will be his third race of the season and he has been far from disgraced in the first two, most recently in the same 1400m turf handicap he had won on the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival last year.

“I rode him at Meydan three weeks ago and he ran very well,” said Crowley. “We have a good low draw for a horse who likes to race prominently and he should go close.”

Again, Mullen appears to be aboard one of the main dangers, on this occasion Akeed Champion, one of three in the contest to be saddled by Satish Seemar and victorious over course and distance on his penultimate start.

South African Mike de Kock gives the race an international flavour, saddling Mastermind, another owned by Sheikh Hamdan and the mount of Pat Cosgrave.

He was behind Ghaamer on the first night of the Carnival but looked in need of that run.

“He is in good form and this looks a good race for him,” said De Kock. “Abu Dhabi is a different sort of track to those he is used to but we expect it to suit him and, hopefully, be in the prize money.”