It isn't’ aften that Abu Dhabi kicks things off with a Thoroughbred race but that is the case on Sunday with a 2400m contest due off at 17:00. For many of the field, it will understandably be their first opportunities of the season to run under their ideal conditions, but that isn’t the case with Mudaarab who won here over 2200m in November and has sound claims of following up. The placed pair, Conclusion and Skygazer both turn out again and whilst solid enough under the conditions, they lack the scope of Mudaarab and the Erwan Charpy yard continue in good form. Valcartier would have been of plenty of interest had he had a run, both his runs on turf last year good ones and it may well just be that Fawzi Nass has this runner more forward than many from his yard for the time of year given he is just 2lb off a carnival slot.
The other one to note is Recordman with it interesting that Richie Mullen has jumped off recent winner King’s Shadow to partner this one who ran well enough on his UAE debut when seventh to Tadbir. The switch back to turf is likely to suit although he will need to break a lot better than he did at Jebel Ali. A Classic evening of racing is highlighted by two races for the 3yos, the fillies in action first at 18:00 and Dhafra looks the one to beat having looked useful on her debut when winning at Al Ain. She is one of three in the race for Eric Lemartinel and one of just two previous winners with the other being Mamia Al Reef, that one having moved yards since her impressive debut. Naturally there is plenty of potential in this field, none more so than with Sahaba who was second on debut and the Jean de Roualle stable were off the mark for the campaign at Al Ain last week.
Stall 14 could have been kinder but she looks a promising sort. The unpenalised Dhafra gets the vote though. Swiftly following is the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic with three previous winners in this field. AF Yeheeb is probably the pick having already beaten Maqam (a winner since) and no doubt Ernst Oertel could have had plenty of options for this, so notable he relies on this one. JAP Nazaa is also worthy of mention with the Irfan Ellahi stable looking to have a good bunch of younger horses and he should step forward quite a bit for his debut effort when fifth to Maqam, whilst note newcomer Majawar who reportedly went well in a trial and represents powerful connections. Ernst Oertel is always a man to be feared in the private owners’ race and his AF Taraha looks as good a starting point as any in what is the second contest on the card.
The mare has already won this season before going down narrowly next time, and with so many of these racing from out of the weights it isn’t a race that will take much winning. MH Tawag should bounce back from a rare below par run last time with AF Seven Skies the other one to throw into the mix, he well able if transferring his improvement on the dirt last time back to turf. The fifth race is another competitive handicap and interesting that Antonio Fresu has kept faith with MH Wari as opposed to riding for his stable on AF Momtaz. MH Wari goes in search of a hat trick and is clearly progressing well. This is tough, however, and the claims of AF Momtaz shouldn’t be overlooked as he shaped well enough on his reappearance with Jawal Al Reef another to consider having won well last time despite a horror draw and trip.
Richard Mullen has kept faith and he gets a narrow verdict in a tough race. The finale is a maiden, preference given to rated horses, so essentially a 0-50 contest off level weights. Optimizm looks the one to be on here as he very nearly made it sixth time lucky on his most recent outing and the stable of Abdallah Al Hammadi have really hit form of late. She has the services of Pat Cosgrave and should go close.