The final meeting of the extended UAE campaign and plenty to look forward to this evening with connections embracing the extra opportunities afforded them this season with open arms. A rated conditions stakes over 2000m on turf, the inaugural Nad Al Sheba Classic has attracted a quality field, as you would expect with Dh240,000 up for grabs, including two runners who competed for South African Mike de Kock on the Dubai World Cup card headed by, on official ratings at least, Yulong Prince. On his first start for the handler, having previously been trained by Stuart Pettigrew, the 4yo Gimmethegreenlight colt was tenth in the Group 1 Dubai Turf, a race won by the amazing Almond Eye, so is taking a massive drop in class. His final start for Pettigrew, last July, was a victory in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000, over 2000m at Greyville, when chased home by Majestic Mambo, then saddled by Paul Peter but who has had two outings for De Kock, most recently finishing just over a length in front of Yulong Prince in the Dubai Turf.
With the benefit of a Super Saturday run, when sixth in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta, the 4yo gelded son of Mambo In Seattle should be cherry ripe for this assignment. For Sheikh Hamdan, Doug Watson introduces Gabr to local action and looks a fascinating new recruit arriving as a Listed winner for Sir Michael Stoute. A 4yo Intello colt, he has only had ten career outings and has been held in high enough esteem to contest the Racing Post Trophy as a 2yo and last year’s St James’s Palace Stakes, both Group One contests. Whatever he achieves here, he very much looks one to keep an eye on with regards to next season and the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival. Trained by Erwan Charpy, Logrado was another who was in action on the big night, never threatening when seventh in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on the dirt surface.
A Group One dirt winner in his native Argentina, he too will be having his third start for new connections. He has won on turf, as well as being placed at the highest level, so it would be no surprise to see him produce a big performance in a truly fascinating contest. Ajwad, in the hands of Rashed Bouresly, arrives on the back of victory in last week’s inaugural Zabeel Trophy, a similar race to this but over 1600m on turf when allowed an uncontested lead under Bernardo Pinheiro who basically stole the race. A 6yo entire by Rock Of Gibraltar, he was not stopping at the line but this will be a new trip for him, 1600m being the furthest he has attempted to date and, surely, he will not be allowed ‘so much rope’ this time.
Another rated conditions contest, where the weights carried are determined by official ratings, but on the dirt, the first running of The Meydan Mile, obviously over 1600m, also carries a Dh240,000 pot Watson saddles Thegreatcollection, a course and distance handicap winner on his latest start having, before a slightly disappointing effort, twice chased home subsequent Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 winner, Capezzano, over this 1600m. However, Pat Dobbs has opted to partner stable companion Galvanize, in receipt of weight from Thegreatcollection who will be ridden by Adrie de Vries. Satish Seemar had entered his Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile winner, Secret Ambition but declared him in the Nad Al Sheba Classic, instead relying on Bochart and Ode To Autumn and both look capable of running well.
With the owner and trainer titles settled, all eyes will be on the ‘battle of the weighing room’; before racing at Al Ain on Thursday Tadhg O’Shea held an advantage of six over Richard Mullen but was forced to sit out the card due to suspension. That tussle, which has ebbed and flowed all season, will, obviously, be resolved this evening.
Race 1: Dark Thunder (NB)
Race 2: Legendary Lunch
Race 3: Pillar Of Society
Race 4: Moqaarar
Race 5: Logrado
Race 6: Dehbashi (Nap)
Race 7: Valcartier