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Sheikhzayedroad Takes on Vazirabad, Bids for Consecutive Nad Al Sheba Trophy Titles

SHEIKHZAYEDROAD
Photo Credit: Dubai Racing Club//Andrew Watkins

Sheikhzayedroad will face eight rivals at Meydan Racecourse as he seeks to defend his crown in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy Sponsored by Al Naboodah-VDL Buses at the ninth meeting of the 2017 Dubai World Cup Carnival on Thursday evening.

If successful, the mount of Richard Mullen will become the first dual winner of the 2810m turf feature first contested in 2010 and he also has a 2000m turf handicap victory at Meydan, in 2014, to his credit.

Trained by David Simcock for Mohammed Jaber, the now eight-year-old was also a Group 1 winner in Canada in 2014 and won both his final two outings, the Group 2 Doncaster Cup and Group 2 British Champions Long Distance Cup, in England last year.

“He seems in good form and won this first time out last season so we know he can go well fresh,” said Simcock. “It does look a strong race this year though and he will certainly come on for the run.”

Heading the opposition is Vazirabad, winner of last year’s Group 2 3200m Dubai Gold Cup on Dubai World Cup day. His trainer, Alain de Royer-Dupre has had much success in Dubai, having won with five of his eight most recent UAE runners.

A dual Group 1 winner in France and the mount of Christophe Soumillon, Vazirabad brings an extra touch of class to a fascinating contest in which Godolphin’s Beautiful Romance adds extra intrigue.

The mount of Oisin Murphy and trained by Saeed bin Suroor, she won her last race, the 2400m Group 2 Zipping Classic in Australia in November and is joined in the field by stable companion, Red Galileo who will be ridden by Adrie de Vries.

“Beautiful Romance was a good winner in Australia last time,” said Bin Suroor. “She has done well since arriving in Dubai and seems in very good form. Red Galileo is a course and distance winner already this year and should run well but this is a better race.”

Another attempting to win a race they won last year is Purebred Arabian Handassa who seeks a second consecutive victory in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 Sponsored by Al Naboodah Peugeot over 2000m on the dirt.

Trained in France by Francois Rohaut, he is owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum as is Versac PY, winner of the same race in 2015 and seeking to regain the title for Erwan Charpy.

Saudi Arabia’s Nashmiah will seek to become the sixth filly to follow victory in the UAE 1000 Guineas by doubling up in the Group 3 Oaks Sponsored by Al Naboodah - Ashok Leyland, over 1900m on dirt.

Trained by Nicholas Bachalard, the filly remains unbeaten having won all her three starts in Saudi Arabia before her winning local debut under Mickael Barzalona who is again in the saddle.

Nomorerichblondes, Rajar and Complimenti, second, third and fourth respectively in the Guineas all seek their revenge in what looks an open contest.

Adding extra interest is the reappearance of 2016 Dubai World Cup runner-up, the Mike de Kock-trained Mubtaahij. He faces nine rivals in the Curlin Handicap Sponsored by Al Naboodah SUNWIN Buses, a Listed contest over the same 2000m dirt course and distance as the $10million Dubai World Cup itself.

The race is named after 2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin who won a similar contest en route to his big race success, as did last year’s victor, California Chrome.

The Doug Watson-trained Storm Belt chased home California Chrome last year and is among the opposition awaiting Mubtaahij and Christophe Soumillon.

The Listed Meydan Classic Sponsored by Al Naboodah Goodyear, over 1400m on turf, looks likely to be dominated by Godolphin who are responsible for three of the 11 runners.

Saeed bin Suroor saddles both Really Special and Top Score but it could be that the Charlie Appleby-trained Fly At Dawn, the mount of William Buick, is the one to beat.