There aren't too many options for Arabians in the 70-90 bracket so no surprise to see two well contested handicaps highlighting Sunday’s Abu Dhabi card. The second of them is over 2200m and Syed is worth a close look in this with the stable of Ibrahim Al Hadhrami continuing in good form. Syed made his reappearance at Abu Dhabi right back on the opening weekend of the season, shaping well in finishing a close fifth to Saarookh over this trip with Saarookh a winner again since. Syed has only had seven starts so far and is open to further improvement so gets the nod in this. Expect a better performance from Dhaafer with his reappearance at Sharjah likely to have been needed. It was also his first start in the UAE and the switch back to turf can help this 5yo who was once fourth in a Group Two in France.
Jean de Roualle has a strong hand in the other quality handicap, again for horses rated up to 80. His Brraq looked very useful last season, winning consecutive races at Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali before running in the Al Ain Mile on his final start. He wasn’t up to that, and was a disappointment on his return, but he was drawn wide on that occasion and this tricky sort has always shaped as though he can rank higher. It would have been a tough choice for Richie Mullen who partnered Somoud last time when not seeming to get home at Al Ain over 2000m. He had previously won at Sharjah and although turned out quickly, he has to be considered.
The youngster Avez De Pine is also well worthy of consideration, a slow start costing him big time in the Abu Dhabi Championship and he looked smart given the ease in which he travelled into contention. I am not sure I can remember a less competitive Thoroughbred handicap at Abu Dhabi for a long time with a surprising lack of entries from some of the bigger yards. In the circumstances it looks a good opportunity for Chingachgook who will be having his third start in three weeks, but he has shaped with a good deal of promise in each of those outings and he won’t mind the switch back to turf. Cranesbill looks a big danger with this stamina test right up his street. He can get behind, but that didn’t stop him from winning at Jebel Ali on his reappearance and as long as they go a good pace he should be bang there.
Irfan Ellahi sets a poser in the maiden with several entries, but JAP Tohfa showed plenty on her debut and of those unrated, she is possibly the one to be with. She was fourth on that occasion at Sharjah in what looked a decent maiden and she can improve enough to play a part. Currently first reserve, connections will be hoping she gets a run. Alworood has experience on her side with three runs under her belt and won’t need to step up too much on those efforts to win. Ernst Oertel’s strongest hand on the card comes in the 35-55 contest and his AF Arrab looks the one to beat after posting a comfortable success last time.
That was in maiden company, but the handicapper was by no means harsh him on, putting his mark up to 50 and he at least arrives in form. Jawal Al Reef has produced three solid efforts this season, a slow start not helping him last time and he could well win again with Joori also a threat having been placed on both his starts this season. The Private Owners race is a maiden this week and AF Mohanak looks the logical one here having improved to finish second at Abu Dhabi last time. He only just failed to reel in JAP Almahfuz on that occasion and the extra 200m here will suit.