Shadwell UAE Season Preview Week 20

Posted on: 5th Mar 2019

Ekhtiyaar: the exciting sprinter is the chosen mount of Shadwell's retained rider Jim Crowley

Saturday saw another win for team Shadwell as Raafid collected his first local success, winning the six furlong turf handicap at Meydan on Saturday. Ridden by Dane O’Neill for trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, the six-year-old scooted to a length and a half victory and has now earned a Carnival mark of 95 on the turf.

HH Sheikh Hamdan runs eight on ‘Super Saturday’ at Meydan this week, the seven-race card being the official dress rehearsal for the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 30th.

The action begins with a very strong renewal of the Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, over six furlongs on dirt, in which Thammin takes his chance for Musabbeh Al Mheiri. The talented Dark Angel gelding was emphatic in the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint last time, but takes on Meydan’s dirt surface for the first time. However, he is well drawn in six and has the assistance of Jim Crowley in a wide open contest.

Two go for the team in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint – prep for the Al Quoz Sprint – with Crowley electing to ride Ekhtiyaar over Faatinah. The Doug Watson trainee was an impressive winner over course and distance last time out and looks a very exciting prospect. Among his ten rivals is the David Hayes-trained Faatinah, who reverts to six furlongs after finishing first, second and third in three tries over the minimum trip so far this Carnival. He will be partnered by Dane O’Neill from stall six.

Hayes said: “It’s a different trip this time, but Blue Point is a proper Group 1 horse and will be very hard to beat. We’re pleased with Faatinah though; by this time last year his coat was starting to go but this time he’s in great shape.”

The Group 3 Burj Nahaar is the main local trial for the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and Shadwell run three, including Muntazah, who has landed the plum draw in one. The Dubawi gelding was the wide-margin winner of the Firebreak Stakes over course and distance three weeks’ ago and will be hard to catch here, although his Godolphin Mile conqueror Heavy Metal is drawn right next to him in stall two.

Dane O’Neill has picked Ibn Malik over Moqarrab; the ride on the latter going to Ben Curtis. Both trained by Al Mheiri, Ibn Malik was a staying-on third over seven furlongs here last week and has been in excellent form all season. Moqarrab, by contrast, flew home in that same race on his local debut and looks likely to be well suited by this return to a mile.

The Group 1 Jebel Hatta, over nine furlongs on turf, completes the field and Crowley rides Janoobi here for Mike De Kock.  A good third in this race last year, he was sixth in the Zabeel Mile, when adopting more hold-up tactics, last time out and may well be more forward this time.

Muzdawaj takes a step up in grade having finished sixth, just beaten five and a quarter lengths, in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes two weeks ago. A winner over this course and distance a fortnight before that, he may still find a few too strong at this level.

The Shadwell team will also be prominent at Jebel Ali’s penultimate fixture of the season on Friday and Erwan Charpy’s Thaaqib has his tenth run of the campaign in the opening nine and a half furlong handicap. Fifth last time over course and distance, a good run should see him thereabouts again.

Two run in race three, a nine furlong handicap, and Etisalat makes a quick return after running a good fifth at Meydan on Saturday over a mile. He stayed on well then, suggesting this extra distance will help, and Crowley rides him in preference to Charpy’s Mujeeb, who drops slightly in trip after being well-held here two weeks ago.

Just five run in the featured mile handicap, race four, including Bawaasil who carries the high regard of Watson. Previously with Owen Burrows for whom he was a winner at Bath, the four-year-old son of Oasis Dream has his first run since being gelded and also has to adapt to dirt.

With Crowley on Bawaasil, O’Neill gets the leg up on Takatul who has twice been second over course and distance . He’s had a 45-day break since his last run; therefore arriving here fresher than most, and he also won’t be far away in a tight contest.

The closing six furlong handicap has attracted two Shadwell runners; one off top weight and one off bottom. Farook heads them here, but has been dropped 3lbs for a fifth here over course and distance two weeks ago. In the same race, Kidd Malibu was one spot ahead of him and he again has a nice light weight with Ben Curtis doing the steering for Al Mheiri.

Shadwell sponsors Abu Dhabi’s six-race card on Sunday night and the dependable Ashraaf returns from a month’s break in the 11 furlong handicap. Running on turf for the first time since 2017, Al Mheiri’s gelding stays well and is off a career-low mark of 55, making this his easiest task for some time.

Watson’s Foaad has also had a month off since scoring at Al Ain last time and the Madjani gelding is just as adept on turf. Ridden by Crowley in the 11-furlong 50-80 handicap, stall 11 may be his main obstacle.

The Thoroughbred handicap is the last race on the card and Ahmushref is among the leading players in a full field of 14. Second on both of his local starts at Jebel Ali when looking the winner until reeled in close home, he is well drawn to adopt similar tactics this time and the flatter track should also play to his strengths.

Laura King

Tags: meydan; supersaturday; sheikhhamdan; shadwell; abudhabi,