Arabians Contest Middle Leg of UAE Triple Crown

Group 2 Abu Dhabi Highlight on Sunday

The official highlight of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi meeting is the Group 2 middle round of the Arabian Triple Crown and seven have been declared for the 2200m Purebred Arabian feature. Trainer Ernst Oertel saddled four winners at the previous meeting in the Capital two weeks ago with Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea on three of them and they combine with Shayel Aldhabi. A filly, she has won all four of her starts locally, including the Emirates Fillies’ Classic a fortnight ago.

That was over 1600m and she has to prove her stamina for this longer trip, under a penalty, but does appear highly progressive. Her jockey concurs. “I have won three times on her over 1600m so this is a big step up in trip but I think she will stay,” said O’Shea. We also have Najm Alemarat in the race and he is a good colt so it was a tough choice, especially as she is penalised, but it is hard to desert the filly after those three wins.”

Najm Alemarat was also in action two weeks ago, headed on the line in the UAE Arabian Derby by O’Shea on another stablemate Skoop, over Sunday’s course and distance. He has at least proved he stays this trip but he was well beaten by Shayel Aldhabi in their previous clash, over 1600m, but is weighted to at least finish closer this time.

Local debutant Laamma, trained by Majed Al Jahouri for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, represents powerful connections and has to be respected, having won in his native France where he also ran some good races in defeat.

The main support race is the 1600m Emirates Colts’ Classic and Hab Nessnas is another of the Oertel/O’Shea winners from a fortnight ago back in action. He is joined among the full field of 16 by stable companions Benyan and Mashahed.

The weights are headed by the penalised Jaber Bittar-trained Monawer who has actually beaten all three of the Oertel runners this season, as well as his own stable companion Sabbaq who looks another to fear.

Wald Johnny looked a useful prospect winning on debut over 1400m and should appreciate the step back to 1600m having appeared not to stay 2200m last time.

The only Thoroughbred race is the 2200m prep for the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship on March 17th and Mulaqat, who won that big race in 2008, has to give weight to 13 rivals having won a Jebel Ali conditions race last March.

James Doyle rides for Dhruba Selvaratnam and HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who were all in double form at Jebel Ali on Friday, but, now a ten-year-old, Mulaqat may struggle to defy his penalty against the likes of Averroes, four years his junior and who registered a career best effort when a close fourth to Opinion Poll in last year’s Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.

He may have been slightly flattered on that occasion but is better than he has been able to show in two starts this season and is yet another live chance for Messrs Oertel and O’Shea. The jockey said: “He stays a lot further so the trip could be a bit sharp for him but they normally go quick at Abu Dhabi so hopefully his stamina can come into play as he has a touch more class than most in the race.”