Selvaratnam targets five Abu Dhabi features

Jebel Ali trainer saddles National Day Cup favourite

Trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, seeking a record fifth victory in the 1600m Listed National Day Cup, the first of Abu Dhabi’s three Thoroughbred features of the season, relies on Forjatt in this year’s renewal.

Winner of the course and distance prep on his seasonal return three weeks ago, Forjatt won the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile in 2014 and was first past the post in the same race last season.

However, on that occasion he was subsequently disqualified after a prohibited substance was found in his system.

His prep victory was impressive; especially considering the Selvaratnam horses normally improve markedly for their first run of the season. Stable jockey, Chris Hayes, was aboard then and maintains the partnership.

“He really pleased us when winning first time,” said Selvaratnam. “He was not beaten far in the National Day Cup two years ago when not enjoying a lot of luck in running.
“He has been in good form since his win but this is a stronger race and Limario looks the one to beat.”

Trained by Doug Watson, Limario was a winner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival in February before twice trying his hand in Group One company. Ultimately well beaten on Super Saturday in the Jebel Hatta and on Dubai World Cup night in the Dubai Turf Sunday’s assignment represents a big drop in class.

With the Watson team flying, he appears a big danger to all.

“He has been working nicely,” said Watson. “It will be his first run at Abu Dhabi but conditions should not be an issue and we are very hopeful of a big run.
“This looks a great race to get him back in action and, with the horses running so well on the whole, he should at least be competitive.”

Stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, aboard for his three most recent outings, including his Meydan victory, is again in the saddle.

It would be no surprise to see Forjatt and Limario dominate with More Aspen perhaps the most likely beneficiary should they fail to fire.

Richard Mullen elects to ride the filly, receiving weight from her 11 rivals, out of three Satish Seemar-trained runners.

She is also returning to action having her first outing since finishing sixth to Selvaratnam’s Dormello in the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship over 2200m.

Prior to that she was fourth in HH The President’s Cup having previously chased home Forjatt in the prep for that 1400m Listed contest.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is the Group 3 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, also over 1600m. Eleven have been declared but the race appears at the mercy of Thakif.

The Nacer Samiri-trained seven-year-old is the best horse in the race on ratings and has conditions very much in his favour receiving weight from five of his rivals.

Winner of the Purebred Arabian Group 1 National Day Cup last year (also over this 1600m but renamed this year as Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown in which Thakif was third), he looks by far the most likely winner.

His jockey Wayne Smith is confident of a big run.

“Hopefully he is the one they all have to beat,” said Smith. “He will have improved from that first run and is getting weight from some, supposedly, inferior rivals.
“We look to have a lot in our favour.”

Smith was aboard Thakif’s stable companion, Areem, when he won the prep for Sunday’s race. Richard Mullen takes over on Areem, winner of the National Day Cup in both 2012 and 2013 before chasing home Thakif in the same race last year.

Sha’Red to be ridden by Pat Dobbs gives Samiri a really strong hand in the race and he could well supply the first three home.

The Eric Lemartinel-trained Abhaar, was fourth in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown but over two lengths behind Thakif to whom he has to concede weight under Tadhg O’Shea.

“Everything appears to be in Thakif’s favour,” said O’Shea. “The conditions really suit him and he is a proven Group One horse. “My fellow should run well but has plenty to find on these terms.”