Derbaas and Areem Attempt National Day Cup Title Defence

Abu Dhabi Hosts Group 1 Purebred Arabian and Listed Thoroughbred Contests

It is the eagerly awaited National Day Cup meeting at Abu Dhabi on Sunday with both Areem and Derbaas, winners of the Purebred Arabian and Thoroughbred version respectively last year, back to defend their crowns.

Both races are over 1600m with the Group 1Purebred Arabian contest the official feature on the card and it looks a cracking renewal. Trained by Majed al Jahouri, Areem made all the running in this race last year under Ahmed Ajtebi and the pair then employed similar tactics at Meydan to win the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Jockey Ajtebi rode him to three victories from five starts last season and retains the partnership. “Last year he did have the benefit of a recent run which he does not this time,” said Ajtebi. “However, he won on his seasonal debut last year and goes well fresh. We would have liked a lower draw probably but we expect a big run.”

He is not the only past winner among the maximum field of 14 with the 2011 victor Sahib Du Clos also declared for trainer Saifaldin Deeb. He was a course and distance winner four weeks ago in the same race Areem landed on his way to National Day Cup glory 12 months ago.

His jockey, Wayne Smith was impressed, with that winning return and said: “The trainer and his team were very bullish before the race and the horse proved them right. He was a bit quiet last season but felt back to his best last time and we are very hopeful.”

Fryvolous, trained by Ernst Oertel, is another previous winner but stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, rides stablemate Shayel Aldhabi. Only four, she is improving rapidly and won the official National Day Prep three weeks ago.

“She is tough and honest,” said the Champion Jockey. “This is her toughest task to date but she showed in the prep she deserves her chance – though this is a far stronger field.”

Derbaas, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, faces 11 rivals in the Thoroughbred equivalent, a Listed contest. As he did 12 months ago, he won the Prep race under the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill and does not have to carry a penalty on this occasion as he did then.

“He battled and was gutsy last time when his class pulled him through,” said O’Neill. “With that run under his belt and at level weights this time, hopefully he is the one they all have to beat.

“The draw in 12 is far from ideal but he is the class act in the field so hopefully he can overcome that.”

Course specialist, Jaasoos not only won this race in both 2009 and 2010, but was second last year and 2011 – when he won HH The President’s Cup. However, stable jockey, James Doyle elects to ride stable companion, Forjatt with both trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam for HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Trained by Satish Seemar and the mount of Richard Mullen, McCartney won HH The President’s Cup in 2010 and ran well enough in the Prep behind Derbaas on what was his first start since January 2011. With the Seemar team in flying form, he can go well and is nicely berthed in two.