Author: Derek Thompson
ABU DHABI is the place to be this week with visitors flying in from all over the world on Emirates to watch what should be a thrilling HH Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown, the richest Purebred Arabian race in the world. With €1,200,000 prize money up for grabs, it has attracted a star studded lineup but there would be no more fitting winner than RB Burn. Trained by Eric Lemartinel for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he won the race in 2016 and was first past the post last year, only to lose the race in the stewards' room after an infringement with second placed Muraaqib, who was eventually awarded the race after a lengthy stewards' enquiry.
Despite the fact he takes on top class challengers from around the world, I believe he is the one to beat with proven form around the tight right-handed Abu Dhabi racetrack and his trainer will have him spot on for Friday night's race at the equestrian club. The Sheikh Zayed Jewel Crown, which marks the tenth anniversary of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival in the 100th anniversary year of HH Sheikh Zayed, is the highlight of a marvellous evening’s racing and there really is something for everyone. There is the final of the HH Sheikha Fatima Ladies World Championship where an interesting contender is the daughter of the great French Champion Jockey Oliver Peslier, Megane, alongside the Apprentice Jockeys' Championship and the final of the Pony Race series.
All the riders have qualified by winning one of the qualifying races that have taken place throughout the world this year. After racing on Friday, guests will enjoy a trip to watch the big endurance race in the desert on Saturday before changing into their best clothes to attend the Gala Awards Dinner which this year will be held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. It promises to be a superb week and thanks must go to the hard working Lara Sawaya and her team who’ve organised the whole thing. All the action will be covered live on Yas TV. It was a vintage Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs last weekend and nobody enjoyed it more than Frankie Dettori, who rode two winners on Enable and Expert Eye.
Enable was undoubtedly the star of the show and in winning became the first Arc de Triomphe winner to go on and win at the Breeders' Cup in the same year; and to show you just what an achievement that is, the previous 14 all failed! And mention must be made of Prince Khalid Abdullah from Saudi Arabia whose colours were carried by Enable and also Expert Eye. It’s something to have one winner at the Breeders' Cup, but to have two is incredible. Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby nearly had two winners as well but after winning the Juvenile Turf with Line Of Duty, his Wild Illusion was beaten a nose in the Fillies & Mares Turf. Appleby, who sent out Masar to win this year's Derby, certainly has a live chance of winning the world's greatest Flat race again because Line Of Duty earned a 16/1 quote for next year's Derby.
And with Masar coming back next year, he has plenty to look forward to in 2019. Saeed bin Suroor has also had a good year and his Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow ran a cracking race to finish third to Accelerate in the Breeders' Cup Classic. And finally... Brian Ellison might not be a famous trainer but the Newcastle-born and Malton-based handler showed what a good dual purpose handler he is by sending out Definitely Red to win the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, the big race in the UK last weekend, and also Mackem Bullet to run a very respectable sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint.