Group 2 Contest Opens Purebred Arabian Action At Meydan

Meydan Racecourse hosts its third meeting of the new season

Purebred Arabian action returns to Meydan Racecourse for the first time this season on Thursday, with nine runners declared for the Group 2 Bani Yas sponsored by Friday over 1400m on a seven race card generously sponsored by Gulf News.

Previously staged in February, the race was moved to this earlier slot last season to offer trainers the opportunity of a ‘prep race’ ahead of the 1600m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 on the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival in five weeks time.

Helal Al Alawi, responsible for three of the nine runners in this race, has enjoyed a fantastic start to the season, having already saddled 12 winners, just one below reigning Champion Trainer Doug Watson who leads the handler’s championship.

Pat Cosgrave, leading the jockeys’ standings on 13, has ridden all bar one of Al Alawi’s winners this season and partners RB Goliath, five times a winner, always on dirt and four times in the UAE, all at Al Ain, twice over 1000m, the other pair at 1600m.

His stable companions, Burning Breeze and RB So Rich are to be ridden by Royston Ffrench and Connor Beasley respectively.

“The horses have been in great form and we hope it continues,” said Al Alawi. “This looks a good race for these three horses and we expect them to run well.

“Burning Breeze is having his first run this season but seems in good form and the other two will be having their second outings of the campaign.

“Obviously it is a good race but we are hopeful they will be competitive with possibly slight preference for RB Goliath.”

The Al Asayl team rely on RB Torch ridden by Tadhg O’Shea in the colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for Eric Lemartinel. He is a winner this season, albeit over 1600m on the Abu Dhabi turf, but does have a Meydan victory to his credit on this card two years ago over 1600m when chased home by the aforementioned RB So Rich.

O’Shea said: “He won well the first day, actually beating stablemate Darius Du Paon who then won the big race at Abu Dhabi last Sunday.

“It is a decent race but he is working well and should be thereabouts.”

Ernst Oertel saddles RB Madymoiselle, a Grade One winner in her native US whose only two UAE starts have been in the Group 1 Kahayla Classic, on Dubai World Cup day and the world’s richest Purebred Arabian race, the Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown.

This represents a big drop in class and with the yard in good form she could be the main danger under Antonio Fresu.

The best of the Thoroughbred action are a pair of handicaps, both worth AED190, 000 with the 1600m Gulf News race looking particularly competitive.

Champion Trainer, Doug Watson, saddles three including Nathr who heads the weights with Dane O’Neill riding for his main employer HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Grand Argentier and Galvanize give the American handler, who saddled four winners at the last Meydan meeting a fortnight ago, a particularly strong hand and he said: “We ran Nathr over 2000m last time and he will prefer this return to 1600m.

“Galvanize won, over this course and distance, at the first Meydan meeting a month ago when Grand Argentier was third in the same 2000m race Nathr contested.

“All three are fit and well so we expect them to run big races in an open looking contest.”

That 2000m handicap Nathr and Grand Argentier contested was won by Trinity Force who will bid for a course and distance repeat in the finale, the, also worth AED190, 000.

He is trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and O’Shea again rides as he did four weeks ago, while stable companion, Jaaref, was second, also over track and trip, a fortnight ago and should go well under Paolo Sirigu.

He chased home Dehbashi two weeks ago, one of four in this race for Watson whose stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, has chosen to ride Active Spirit who has been done no favours by the draw and will be departing stall ten.

Midnight Chica, second in last season’s UAE Oaks, is one of two in the race for HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Gopi Selvaratnam. She is the choice of Oisin Murphy with Colm O’Donoghue aboard stablemate, Bluff.