Abu Dhabi Stages Big-Race Preps

Thoroughbred and Purebred Arabian President`s Cup Hopefuls Face Starter

Three weeks before the main events, HH The President Cup Prep races take pride of place at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening with 10 set to go to post in the 1400m Thoroughbred race, the last contest on the six race card.

Dhruba Selvaratnam has enjoyed big-race success at both Meydan and Jebel Ali in recent weeks and, after the late defection of Jaasoos, the 2011 HH The President Cup winner, he relies on Yaa Wayl, a 1400m winner at Jebel Ali on his local debut two starts ago.

He was well beaten on his only subsequent outing but will not mind the return to turf and stable jockey, James Doyle, sounds hopeful.

“We are drawn ten, which is perhaps not ideal, but he is in good form at home and obviously the yard are going well," he said. "It has been a good ten days for the whole team and hopefully it will continue.

“HH The President’s Cup is obviously a prestigious race and one we would like to win. This prep will give us some idea of where we stand with Yaa Wayl.”

National Day Cup (1600m) winner Nawwar is one of four in the race for leading owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the choice of retained jockey, Dane O’Neill.

“He was impressive winning the National Day Cup,” said O’Neill. “He then contested a red hot Dubai World Cup Carnival handicap and was not disgraced. We have a nice low draw so we can be positive and the trip should suit.

“We have to be hopeful.”

He is trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, as is the same owner’s Alazeyab, winner of last season’s HH The President Cup, when it was run in December, but winless since. He will be ridden by stable jockey, Royston Ffrench.

“Obviously he goes well under these conditions and he and Nawwaar should both run well," said Ffrench.

The Purebred Arabian equivalent is over 2200m and features a fascinating clash between proven Group 1 performers, Versac Py and Musharab, as well as the unbeaten Skoop.

Erwan Charpy trains Versac PY, winner of the Group 1 Emirates Championship over the same 2200m course and distance in 2012 and, not surprisingly, O’Neill chooses to ride him over Sheikh Hamdan’s other runner, Takaamul.

Charpy said: “He is a good horse and we are looking forward to getting him back on the course. The President’s Cup is an obvious target and we have the Emirates Championship as well as the last two rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan to look at.

“He will probably improve for this run but should go well.”

Last year’s Emirates Championship was won by Musharab, who looks the best of the four runners for trainer, Majed Al Jahouri and five for his owner, HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Harry Bentley rides Musharab and said: “We won the big race here in March so conditions will suit him and he will appreciate this step back up in trip after two runs this season at 1600m.”

Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, combines with Ernst Oertel, the Champion Trainer, with Skoop, winner of all three career starts to date, including over course and distance.

O’Shea said: “He is a lovely, young horse, hopefully with a big future. He has done nothing wrong so far but this is a different test for him against the likes of Versac PY and Musharab.

“We will find out a lot about him in this company.”