CAPITAL ACTION undoubtedly highlighted by the Thoroughbreds who, as always, are given just the one chance to sign but trainers have assembled a quality posse to face the starter. They get to strut their stuff in a 1600m rated conditions stakes, formerly the UAE Martyrs Cup but with a name change to Al Dhafra this year. Whatever the moniker, it is still over the same course and distance as the Listed National Day Cup and was won in both 2017 and 2018 by Shamaal Nibras, a closing third last year. Trained by Doug Watson, the 10yo gelded son of First Samurai has been a wonderful servant for enthusiastic syndicate owners Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC).
His six victories in their multi coloured silks include the 2018 Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile as well as two editions of the Jebel Ali Classic (Silver Jubilee). Having won this on seasonal debut twice he clearly goes well fresh and must be a big danger to all in a wide open contest. Sheikh Hamdan and Ali Rashid Al Rayhi combined to land this 12 months ago with Jaaref and team up this year with Eqtiraan, not disgraced in fourth on his dirt debut in the 1400m feature at Jebel Ali last Friday. A 5yo gelded son of Helmet, he was second in the 1400m Listed HH The President Cup of 2018 on his one previous Abu Dhabi excursion and won, over 1200m at that level, the 2017 Cathedral Stakes at Doncaster, the second and most recent career victory when trained by Richard Hannon.
Above N Beyond may not have won in the UAE, or since September 2016 when trained in England by Tom Dascombe but, sixth in this race last year, has produced some cracking performances in defeat, including at the last two Dubai World Cup Carnivals and, surely, it is only a matter of time before he opens his account for Ahmad bin Harmash. Poet’s Society has run just twice locally since joining Ahmad bin Harmash having won on no less than 11 occasions when trained in England by Mark Johnston before changing hands for a relatively measly 60,000gns at Tattersalls last autumn. A 5yo gelded son of Poet’s Voice, he may well prove a shrewd purchase for his new owner, Badr Abdulla Ismail Al Mutawa and was beaten less than a length in a 1400m carnival handicap on his latest start in February.
Another with carnival form, Mailshot was a course and distance winner a fortnight ago for Salem bin Ghadayer and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Conditions clearly suit and race fitness can only be an advantage. Representing the 4yos, Wasim is a fascinating contender for Ismail Mohammed who both owns and trains this Acclamation colt, another to have performed well at the carnival and who was just in front of Above N Beyond in a 1400m Meydan handicap at the international extravaganza in February. His previous effort was a fine second in the 1400m Listed HH The President Cup when closing fast in what remains his only previous outing in the capital. Interestingly this will be his first attempt at beyond the 1400m he has registered both victories, at Meydan and the stamina sapping Jebel Ali.
The best of the Purebred Arabian fare would appear to be a handicap, also over 1600m and in which Jean de Roualle is set to unleash course and distance winner Brraq, as well as Munowra, a 1400m victor at Al Ain, for Sheikh Mansour and Yas Horse Racing Management respectively. Richard Mullen chooses the former. From seven entries, Ernst Oertel has six runners, seemingly headed by AF Al Aassi, the choice of Tadhg O’Shea.