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Areem Bids For Third Group 1 Victory Of The Season

Sunday’s Abu Dhabi card is highlighted by the Group 1 Liwa Oasis and ten have been declared for the 1400m feature, headed by Areem, already winner of both the National Day Cup and opening round of the Maktoum Challenge this season.

Owned by H E Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Areem is trained by Majed Al Jahouri who has provided the owner with plenty of big race success this season and he will again be ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi who said: “The yard have been in great form all season and Areem has certainly been one of the stars. When we won the prep for the National Day Cup he was a bit too keen but he was excellent in the big race itself and then at Meydan.

“His two big wins have been over 1600m but the drop back to 1400m should not be a problem as he likes to go from the front. This looks a good opportunity for him and we expect a big run.”

One of his main dangers would appear to be stable companion Thakif who won over 1000m on his most recent start but stays 1600m and could find this trip his optimum these days. Regular jockey Harry Bentley retains the ride and said: “He has plenty of speed as he showed when winning last time. This is a better race but he should be thereabouts.”

Of the remainder, the Gill Duffield-trained Burning Fancy should appreciate the return to grass having disappointed on the all-weather at Meydan on her local debut. The seven-year-old has some useful form in Europe to her name and could prove a big danger under Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea.

“She had been working well,” said O’Shea. “We thought she would run a big race that day so hopefully she can bounce back but the likes of Areem is very useful and he looks the one to beat.”

O’Shea rides the very highly-regarded Skoop in the main support race, the Group 3 concluding round of the Arabian Triple Crown , over 2400m. Trained by Ernst Oertel, he won his only start in his native France and made a winning local debut in the UAE Derby over 2200m. he seemed to need every yard of the trip on that occasion so this extra 200m should suit him and O’Shea said: “He is a lovely horse and one who should have a big future. We thought he would be hard to beat in that UAE Derby but we only just made it – catching another of Ernst’s runners, Najm Alemarat who is again in opposition.

“Hopefully we can confirm that form and it would be nice to think Skoop has a lot more to offer.”

Al Jahouri would appear to saddle the main danger in local debutant Merzal, to be ridden by Bentley and who arrives here having won one of his four starts in France as well as being placed in Group 3 company.

However, he found Skoop a neck too good on their respective debuts.