Group 3 Sprint Action Highlights Nine-Race Abu Dhabi Card

Areem and Bigg N Rich to Continue Rivalry

With three races rescued from last week’s cancelled fixture, Abu Dhabi stage a marathon nine-race card on Sunday with an early start time of 3.30pm.

Pick Six players should take note that the competition involves races 4-9.

The feature is the Group 3 Al Ruwais over 1000m and eight have been declared for what appears a very good renewal with the weights headed by penalised Group One winners Areem and Bigg N Rich.

Trained by Eric Lemartinel, Bigg N Rich was ahead of Areem when they were second and third respectively in the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah on the Meydan Racecourse dirt.

Lemartinel’s charge then went on to win the Group 1 opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge over the same 1600m course and distance.

This will be only his second start over the minimum 1000m trip and he was well beaten in this same race two years ago on his only previous attempt.

This will be his sixth start of the campaign with Wayne Smith in the saddle for the fifth consecutive occasion.

“He travels strongly in his races,” said Smith. “So hopefully he can handle the drop in trip but his penalty will make things more difficult obviously.”

Areem won both the Group 1 National Day Cup (1600m) and Liwa Oasis (1400m) last season but had to settle for second in this year’s National Day Cup before the aforementioned third in the Mazrat al Ruwayah.

Silvestre De Sousa rides for Majed Al Jahouri and he has to be considered given his abundant natural pace and his tendency to race from the front.

Interestingly, it will be the first time he has tried 1000m.

“The trip should not be a problem,” said De Sousa. “Hopefully we can get away well from our middle draw and I am looking forward to it.”

Yousef Al Bloushi saddles Sha’Red, who dead-heated in this race last year. Like Areem, he is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as is Da’Areen, to be partnered by Harry Bentley for Al Jahouri.

Salem Al Ketbi was in great form at Al Ain on Friday and relies on Hakim, having only his fourth career start and second locally. He was fourth then, over 1400m, and this drop in trip should suit.

Tadhg O’Shea, who combined with the trainer to register a treble on Friday, rides.

Erwan Charpy introduces Manark to the UAE for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He has some decent form in Europe and looks a smart recruit.

He will be ridden by Paul Hanagan who rides Versac PY for the same connections in the prep race for the Purebred Arabian HH The President’s Cup.

He should run well and the same owner’s Nawwaar, again the mount of Hanagan, looks the one to beat in the Thoroughbred equivalent before seeking to repeat his win in the big race itself in two weeks time.

He is trained by Ali Rashid Al Rahe.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Forjatt was due to defend his Jebel Ali crown last Friday but that meeting was also lost and that race delayed until 20th February.

So he runs here alongside stable companion Yaa Wayl, giving the trainer a strong hand.

Both the prep races were originally scheduled for last week.