PRESTIGE ACTION takes centre stage in Abu Dhabi this evening with the meeting officially highlighted by the Emirates Fillies and Emirates Colts Classic, both over 1600m and restricted to 4yos, the joint features. For Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan, Eric Lemartinel saddled and Fabrice Veron partnered Dhafra to win the Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic and Maqam the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, both Prestige contests over 1400m and the pair look the most likely winners of their respective races this evening. Dhafra looked particularly exciting and is unbeaten after two starts having also made a winning debut, over the same 1400m, in early November before following up five weeks later.
Maqam was almost as easy a winner having previously shed his maiden tag over 1200m on the dirt at Sharjah having, over 1000m, finished second at the same venue on debut. Most recently, against his elders, he was far from disgraced when third in the Shadwell Gold Cup, another 1600m Prestige contest, and should appreciate the return to calmer waters among his own age group. Seeking out dangers appears as a futile pastime but, among the colts Musheer Al Wathba and JAP Aneed look capable of running well with Sahaba, runner-up in both career stars, including behind Dhafra, perhaps best among the remaining fillies. The only Thoroughbred contest is a 1400m handicap for which a very healthy 28 entries were received on Monday. With the maximum allowed field of 16 declared it looks a ferociously tricky puzzle for Pick Six players to fathom with recent good form at a premium.
If ever a race merited the use of a ‘lucky pin’ this is it and a victory for any of the 16 would be far from the biggest surprise in the world, so much so that it is hard to know where to start. With Satish Seemar likely to win with the stable cat, dog and mascot such good form is he currently in, Mazeed is certainly worthy of consideration. In the ownership of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum when twice victorious on the Meydan dirt over 1600m, most recently in just over a year ago, the 6yo Street Cry gelding started this season in good form, with a third and a second at Meydan but has shown less in three subsequent outings. Recruited by Al Bait Mutawahed Team, this will be his first turf outing since leaving the care of Mike de Kock for whom he was fourth on the Meydan grass over 1800m on his final start for the South African in February 2017.
This will actually be just his second ever turf outing. His stable companions Fares Kodiac and Dobbia, Fawzi Nass’ 3yo Raahy and Daltrey for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi are other names to consider in a real landmine of a race for those playing the tipping competitions. Also for Al Rayhi, Alkhalifa has sneaked in at the bottom of the weights, to be ridden by Jim Crowley for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan, always a trio to keep on the right side of in the capital.