Shadwell UAE Season Preview Week 19

Posted on: 26th Feb 2019

Ekhtiyaar: the son of Bated Breath ran out an easy winner at Meydan last week

The team’s superb run of form over the past two weeks continued at the Carnival on Thursday when Ekhtiyaar ran away with a competitive six furlong turf sprint. Trained by Doug Watson and ridden by Jim Crowley, the Bated Breath gelding was making just his second local start and is now destined for a step up in grade in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on Super Saturday, March 9th.

Watson said: “We dropped him back from 1400m because there are no races over that trip on Super Saturday or Dubai World Cup night, so it is exciting to see him win like that.”

A day later, Crowley was again in the saddle when Thammin took the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint. Like Ekhtiyaar, Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s grey was making just his second local start and beat some seasoned sprinters emphatically in the five furlong contest.

“The last time at Meydan over 1200m he perhaps didn’t finish his race off,” said Crowley. “He showed so much speed I thought dropping to 1000m would suit him and that has proved the case today.”

This week Meydan stages its final Thursday Carnival meeting of the season and the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy, the main prep for the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup, is the feature.

HH Sheikh Hamdan runs Zamaam in the mile and eight furlong contest; the Erwan Charpy-trained gelding aiming to bounce back from a sub-par run last time, when only fourth here over two miles. This time he faces six rivals, from stall two.

The Listed Curlin Handicap, race five, is the only race of its kind at the Carnival and Etijaah lines up in the ten furlong contest for a fourth time, having won it in 2016 and 2017 and finishing third to the re-opposing Saltarin Dubai last year. Now down to a mark of 101, Doug Watson’s charge has every chance of being on the premises again, provided they go a good gallop, and being drawn in seven shouldn’t be too much of an issue for a horse with his closing style of running.

The mile dirt handicap looks very competitive and Ibn Malik tops the weights for Al Mheiri. Group 3-placed at this distance when trained in the UK, he has been effective at sprint trips of late and tries Meydan’s mile for the first time. His presence has put some of his rivals out of the handicap, so Moqarrar carries just 53kilos for Erwan Charpy and Antonio Fresu. Back to what looks his optimum trip, after not quite seeing out the nine and a half furlongs at Jebel Ali last week, he has a good chance of winning this, from the plumb draw in one.

Muraaqeb was never able to land a blow last time out over a mile, so the David Hayes trainee drops to seven furlongs in the penultimate turf handicap. Fresh last time on his UAE debut, he should fare much better this time and is the choice of Crowley, although the Godolphin team will once again be difficult to beat. Hayes also saddles Eshtiraak, who has run three very good races here at the Carnival. Just fading out of it last time over a mile, this drop in trip should suit the Street Cry gelding and he has leading claims off a 2lb lower mark than he raced off last week.O’Neill partners him from stall nine.

Al Ain hosts an evening fixture on Friday and Zaraee takes his chance in the five furlong Thoroughbred handicap. Well-held last time out at Jebel Ali, the Al Mheiri team member makes his Al Ain debut and can go close if reverting to the form which saw him finish second at Jebel Ali in October.

In the same race, Alkhalifa takes his chance for Al Rayhi and Fernando Jara. The grey was well-held last time he tried this course and distance, but has run well at Jebel Ali since and has a nice light weight this time.

The Listed Al Ain Mile, for Arabians, is the track’s first ever pattern race and Sheikh Hamdan supports it with AF Mahshoum. The well-bred grey is better than he showed last time at Sharjah and has won twice here in the past; both times over further than this. With Crowley on duty in the UK, O’Neill overlooks AF Mashoum in favour of Sauternes Al Maury. Watson’s quirky seven-year-old is dropping in trip and grade after running a good fifth in Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan three weeks ago.

The Shadwell team is out in force for Saturday’s seven-race domestic card at Meydan; starting with two in the second race, a seven furlong dirt handicap.

O’Neill has chosen local newcomer Mayaadeen, who was previously trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld. A full brother to Group 2 winner Cable Bay, the four-year-old is by Invincible Spirit so is likely to adapt well to dirt. This looks a good starting point for him, with rivals including Al Rayhi’s Mashaheer, who tries Meydan for the first time, having run two solid races in defeat at Abu Dhabi on turf.

Watson unveils another UAE debutant, Althaaqib, in the 11-furlong dirt handicap, the four-year-old having arrived from Owen Burrows in the UK. A $1.9million yearling purchase, the newly-gelded son of War Front won once from six tries in the UK, but is intriguing now switched to dirt. Apprentice Adam McLean takes a valuable three kilos off his back.

The 10-furlong dirt handicap, race four, is also an open race and Zainhom drops in class after his excellent third in the Listed President’s Cup in Abu Dhabi. Fifth in a Listed race on his only try over course and distance, he has a big chance here from a good draw in three.

The team run four in the mile turf handicap, including half-brothers Jaaref and Yaalail; the latter making his local debut for Al Rayhi. Previously with John Hammond in France, the four-year-old Intello gelding has won twice so far and looks a classy new recruit for his trainer. O’Neill rides him, leaving Charpy’s stable jockey Fresu with the ride on Juthoor, who will appreciate this drop in trip, having run a valiant race in defeat, beaten just half a length, over 11 furlongs at Abu Dhabi last time.

The Shadwell quartet is completed by Tafaakhor, who was a good second here over nine furlongs last time out. Consistent, he is a capable of landing a blow here if Jara can overcome a wide draw in 13.

Al Rayhi’s Etisalat ran well on local debut at Jebel Ali on Friday and he takes on 11 others in race six, over a mile on dirt. Drawn well in three and carrying 55 kilos, the son of Invincible Spirit should not be far away in an open race.

Sheikh Hamdan runs three in the closing six furlong grass handicap, and O’Neill rides Raafid, who was fifth when last seen at Abu Dhabi and has also gone well here over course and distance. That leaves Jara with the ride on stablemate Mustallib, who has been dropped 4lbs after finishing sixth over course and distance a month ago.

In the same race, Mike De Kock runs Alfolk, who is another to run back quickly, after finishing sixth in the Jebel Ali Sprint on Friday. Back on turf here, this Group 3 winner would be hard to beat on the pick of his form, but is yet to show that in four starts in the Emirates.

Laura King

Tags: meydan; alain; shadwell; sheikhhamdan; lauraking; dubai,