Arabian Triple Crown Gets Underway at Abu Dhabi Sunday

Al Asayl Team Saddles Three Hopefuls

The opening round of the Arabian Triple Crown highlights the first UAE race meeting of 2015 at Abu Dhabi Racecourse on Sunday.

With a quarter of a million dirhams on offer, the 1600m Listed race has unsurprisingly attracted a full field of 14 (as well as two reserves) with three runners for Salem Al Ketbi and the Al Asayl team.

All three are unbeaten with stable and Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, electing to partner RB Torch, a very impressive winner of his only start in a 1400m Al Ain maiden.

Murooj, second on that occasion, won at Al Ain last week to give the form a solid look.

Al Ketbi’s other two runners also won their only start to date and Adrie De Vries comes in for the spare ride on Abhaar and Richard Mullen aboard Estourah.

Mullen’s mount is one of five fillies in the race.

“It was certainly far from an easy choice,” said O’Shea. “All three are one from one and have done absolutely nothing wrong. So far they have done everything we have asked of them.

“RB Torch gave me a really good feel at Al Ain but I am having to take it on trust he will be effective on turf. Hopefully he will be and it would be nice to think all three will run big races for the team.”

On ratings, Da’Areen, one of five maidens among the 14 and making her local debut for Majed Al Jahouri, is the one they all have to beat.

The mount of Hary Bentley, she has failed to win in eight starts in France and it remains to be seen if she justifies her lofty rating of 98.

The same comment applies to Shaheer who contests the opening 1600m maiden with a rating of 111 – achieved when second in Group One company on her third and most recent outing in France.

Al Jahouri and Bentley again provide the main danger with a local debutant, in this case Haizoom.

The only Thoroughbred contest, the concluding 2400m handicap, sees 12 go to post, including Udabaa, one of two rides on the card for Paul Hanagan.

Retained by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Hanagan has been out of action since fracturing his collarbone in November.

They were third in this last year just ahead of Malekov who is in opposition again for Al Ketbi and O’Shea.

The race was won last year by Inthar who will defend his crown for Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen and was chased home by Amaan.

The latter will try to go one better with Noel Garbutt riding for Sheikh Hamdan and Erwan Charpy, as was the case 12 months ago.

Udabaa’s trainer, Doug Watson, also has Dr Faustus among the 12 and he too has to be feared under Sam Hitchcott, while Silvestre De Sousa is an eye-catching jockey booking for Snow Squall.

Trained by Ahmad bin Harmash, he will be having only his second local start and will appreciate returning to turf having made his UAE debut on the Meydan dirt.