Contenders Prep for National Day Cup at Abu Dhabi

Thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians Highlight Meeting

With just three weeks to Abu Dhabi’s National Day Cup meeting on 8th December, the Capital’s racecourse plays host on Sunday to prep races for both the Thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians for the season’s first major races.

Both are over the same 1600m course and distance as the National Day Cup races themselves and a select field of eight have been declared for the Thoroughbred version, the concluding race of six.

Both the 2011 and 2012 winners are among the octet with last year’s victor, Derbaas, carrying a penalty for his subsequent win in the Listed National Day Cup. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the now eight-year-old was a Group 2 Meydan winner in his prime back in 2011 but his two Jebel Ali wins last season proved he retains plenty of ability.

The owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, was aboard for both wins last season and is again. “Abu Dhabi really suits him and we have a great draw in one, though in this small afield that is perhaps less important. The penalty makes the task more difficult but he should not be far away,” said the jockey.

The owner is actually responsible for half the field, including Marching Time, winner of this prep race in 2011 for Doug Watson who also saddles War Monger in the famous blue and white silks.

Pat Dobbs rides Marching Time with Sam Hitchcott aboard War Monger.

Further intrigue is added by the presence of Jaasoos, runner-up to Derbaas in the National Day Cup last year, having won the race in both 2009 and 2010 and been second in 2011. James Doyle rides for Dhruba Selvaratnam.

Jaasoos also won the 2011 HH The President’s Cup, a race the Satish Seemar-trained McCartney landed in 2010. He has only run once since but it looks significant that connections have persevered.

Nine are set to face the starter in the Purebred Arabian version, in which the weights are headed by penalised pair, Musharab and Quite A Show. The former carries a penalty after his win in Abu Dhabi’s Group 1 Emirates Championship, over 2200m, in March. Harry Bentley, who rode him to that big race win, is again in the saddle on the Majed Al Jahouri-trained six year-old.

Doug Watson trains Quite A Show, penalised for his win in last season’s Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah at Meydan. Dane O’Neill rides for his main employer, Sheikh Hamdan and the pair look the ones to beat, despite conceding weight to seven of their rivals.

As you would expect in such a race, HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is particularly well represented and supplies four of the runners, headed by the aforementioned Musharab.

He is joined in the field by stable companions Ghalib and Merzal, the mounts of Wayne Smith and Richard Mullen respectively.

Eric Lemartinel saddles the owner’s fourth runner, Raked, who looks to face a stiff task in this illustrious company.

The same would have to be said about Shayel Aldhabi but the filly, winner of four of her six local starts, does represent the powerful combination of Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel and Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.