AFTER A couple of low key meetings this year, big race action returns to the capital and its lauded turf course, highlighted by the 1200m Group 3 Al Ruwais with this year’s renewal appearing wide open. Homebred by the Omani Royal Cavalry, Arif appears a strong contender for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami over a trip he has only competed at once, a victory on dirt at Sharjah in February 2019.

He is nothing if not versatile, regarding both trip and underfoot conditions and it would be no surprise to see him bounce back to winning ways, something he has not achieved since almost exactly a year ago when successful over 1000m on the dirt of Al Ain.

That was actually a week later than the 9yo entire scored at the same venue over 1400m. The wonderful MH Rahal rarely misses a big race gig and stable star for Elise Jeanne, the 8yo entire will be having his sixth outing this season, seeking a third win during the campaign.

Admittedly both victories have been registered in lesser company, something he rarely tackles, but he has not produced a poor performance all season and will surely run well again. The main concern with him would be that he is arguably better on dirt but this will be his first crack at a sprint distance on turf and he has performed admirably over 1400m here at Abu Dhabi in the past.

Shabih Alreeh looks a fascinating new recruit to the UAE for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and boasts some decent European and Qatar form for previous connections. That said, the 9yo entire has been an infrequent visitor to the winner’s enclosure and not since December 2018 on turf in Doha but the name of Al Nabooda automatically grabs respect.

Liwa Stables’ RB Torch has not won since October 2019 but has produced many a fair effort in defeat since. It would be folly to rule him out, along with Ghazwan Al Khalediah and Eghel De Pines. Normally a race that boasts a standout, not so hard to predict winner, that seemingly could not be further from the truth this year.

Prestige status is afforded to the main support race, the regally monikered Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup, a 1600m conditions race. It was won last year by turf sensation Hameem who will surely be hard to beat in his bid to become the third multiple winner of a race inaugurated in 2001: Abhar won consecutive renewals from 2015 and Saken’s victory in 2005 was actually his third consecutive success.

Trained by Abdallah Al Hammdi the 5yo entire arrived at Meydan for his dirt debut, in the 1900m Madjani Stakes, also over the longest trip he has tackled, and he was far from disgraced when finishing fourth. Prior to that excursion in previously unchartered territory, the horse had an immaculate Abu Dhabi record, victorious on all his seven starts in the capital on the turf.

Assuming that his Meydan dirt experience has not ‘soured him’, and there is no reason to believe it would, it is easy to envisage him winning this ‘on the bridle’; he looks a class apart from his five rivals.

Selections

Race 1: JAP Gaboub
Race 2: Barjah
Race 3: MH Tawag
Race 4: Soko (NB)
Race 5: Hameem (Nap)
Race 6: MH Rahal
Race 7: El Baareq