Shadwell UAE Season Preview Week 7

Posted on: 4th Dec 2018

Almanaara: exciting sprinter is in action at Meydan this week

The action in the Emirates ramps up a gear or two this weekend, with Thoroughbred Listed races taking place at Meydan and Abu Dhabi, while the Capital also stages a valuable Group 3 for Arabians. 

Seven go for Shadwell at Meydan, where the feature is the Listed Garhoud Sprint. It was won by HH Sheikh Hamdan’s Muarrab in 2017 and the team go for back-to-back wins in the six furlong event, with two contenders this time. Doug Watson runs the exciting Almanaara, who won on his seasonal debut last year, albeit at a lower level. Ridden by Dane O’Neill for the first time in the UAE, the five-year-old ended his season with a comprehensive win over course and distance and is a major player here, from a good draw in three.

View Meydan card here 

Musabbeh Al Mheiri remains in good form and he saddles Ibn Malik who makes his dirt debut. The five-year-old drops back in trip having run well over a mile on turf at Abu Dhabi a month ago.

35 minutes before the feature is the ten furlong handicap, which sees several horses on the cusp of a Carnival rating and Shajjy goes here off a mark of 87. The quirky four-year-old improved with headgear on when fourth over six furlongs here last time, but the step up in trip looks a bold move.

The mile handicap features Erwan Charpy’s Thaaqib, who has been kept busy, having his fourth run of the season here. He made a gallant effort from the front at Jebel Ali last time, eventually finishing three and a half-lengths back in third, and should not be discounted here. O’Neill rides from stall nine in a full field of 16.

The closing seven furlong handicap has attracted three Shadwell runners and O’Neill has elected to ride local debutant Tadbir for Charpy. The Kodiac three-year-old was a maiden winner at Chelmsford for previous handler Brian Meehan and takes on dirt for the first time. He faces stablemate Farook, who ran well last time at Jebel Ali and who steps up to seven furlongs here, a distance he’s been second over twice.

It’s the third Shadwell runner who interests the most, however; the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Mustallib taking a notable drop in grade, having last been seen finishing sixth behind subsequent dual Group I winner Jungle Cat in the Meydan Sprint on Super Saturday. That was on turf, however, so he needs to adapt to this dirt track in the hands of experienced apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei. Being by Iffraaj, this shouldn’t be a problem and he can run well in a competitive race.

Al Ain hosts its third meeting of the campaign on Friday and three carry the blue and white silks. They include Mutawakked, who goes in the Thoroughbred sprint, over five furlongs. Al Mheiri’s four-year-old has been third twice over seven furlongs and shows enough pace to suggest that this cut back won’t be an issue. Among his rivals is the Al Rayhi-trained Alkhalifa, who has been well-held on his two local starts to date but faces an easier task this time under Fernando Jara.

The most valuable race on the card is the finale, a ten furlong Arabian handicap, in which Ashraaf runs for Al Mheiri. The seven-year-old is still without a win in the Emirates, but was only a neck second over course and distance in January. A repeat of that effort would see him in with a chance again.

There are six Shadwell runners in the Capital on Sunday, including AF Mahshoum who runs in the Group 3 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan National Day Cup, over a mile. The five-year-old won the UAE Arabian Derby well on his last outing in March, but must drop back considerably in distance here.

Sheikh Hamdan runs four in the Listed National Day Cup for Thoroughbreds; O’Neill not surprisingly opting for Doug Watson’s Muntazah. The five-year-old won the President’s Cup here over seven furlongs in March before running an excellent second on his dirt debut in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. He has a tricky draw in 11 and will need luck, but should still be too good for his 15 opponents, even if bigger targets loom later in the season.

Muntazah’s rivals include Jaaref, winner of the prep for this, the Martyrs’ Cup, over course and distance last time, beating the re-opposing Zainhom by a length and a quarter. The latter, a bigger horse, may come on more for the run, but a bold showing from both is expected here. Zainhom is trained by Al Mheiri who also runs Maftool. The winner of the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas back in 2013, he hasn’t been the easiest to train since then and resumes here off a 681-day hiatus.

Laura King

Tags: lauraking; shadwell; meydan; alain,