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National Day Cups Highlight Abu Dhabi`s Meeting

Defending Champions Seek Victory in Thoroughbred and Purebred Arabian Features

Sunday is one of Abu Dhabi’s biggest meetings of the season with the National Day Cups, one for Thoroughbreds, one for Purebred Arabians, the obvious highlights.

Both races are over 1600m and the defending champions are back in each; Areem in the Purebred Arabian race and Nawwaar in the Thoroughbred version.

Trained by Majed Al Jahouri, Areem is actually seeking a third consecutive victory in his heat, a feat achieved previously only by the mighty Alanudd (who actually won the race four times in total) and Ezil.

Ridden to victory in both 2012 and 2013 by Ahmed Ajtebi, Silvestre De Sousa takes over in the saddle this year.

Al Jahouri saddled the winner of all eight UAE Purebred Arabian Group One events last season and also has Thakif among the ten runners.

The winner of the Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, over the same distance four weeks ago, he is again the mount of Harry Bentley, as he was on that occasion and who has won on him four times.

“This 1600m is the optimum for Areem as he has shown since arriving in the UAE,” said Al Jahouri.

“This race has been his obvious first target all along and he seems in great form. We are happy to be drawn one and expect him to run a big race."

“To win the race three times in succession would be a great achievement by the horse.”

Both Al Jahouri’s runners are owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as are Sha’Red and Haanoof, both trained by Yousef Al Bloushi.

The 2011 winner, Sahib Du Clos, second last year, is back to try and reclaim the title, something Alanudd and Dynamite have both achieved in the past.

Trained by Saifaldin Deeb, he is the mount of Wayne Smith and also making his seasonal reappearance.

“He has a good record fresh,” said Smith. “He won this first time out three years ago and won the prep on seasonal debut last year so lack of a run is no concern.

“He ran a great race when second last year behind Areem who, again, looks the one to beat.”

Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel is set to saddle three, with Shayel Aldhabi, fourth last year, looking his best chance with Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, in the saddle.

Ali Rashid Al Raihe has saddled the winner of the Listed Thoroughbred equivalent in each of the last three seasons with his Nawwaar landing the prize last year from 2012 victor and stable companion, Derbaas.

This year’s renewal looks a good one with last year’s first and second joined in the field by Master Of War, winner of the prep race three weeks when denying Nawwaar with Derbaas in third.

Nawwaar was penalised on that occasion and will again be ridden by Dane O’Neill, retained jockey for the horse’s owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“We have a great draw in two,” said O’Neill. “This horse just loves to bowl along in front so we are in exactly the right stall to suit his style of running.

“He will have improved from that run in the prep, when penalised, and really should go very close.”

Derbaas will be ridden by Al Raihe’s stable jockey, Royston Ffrench, who said: “My fellow will run his usual solid race but Nawwaar will be hard to beat.”

Master Of War’s trainer, Dhruba Selvaratnam, echoed that sentiment. “Our horse will have improved from that run when winning the prep,” said Selvaratnam. “However, Nawwaar was giving us weight and will surely also have come on for the outing."

“He will be had to beat but our horse is in good form and should run well.”