THOROUGHBREDS hog the limelight in the capital this evening with their sole opportunity, a 2400m handicap, carrying a purse of Dh100,000 and, subsequently, the most valuable of the six races. As with all Abu Dhabi Thoroughbred handicaps, it appears wide open with a case to be argued for the vast majority among the maximum allowed field of 14. Doug Watson was well represented at the entry stage with three given the option of running in this so it looks highly significant he only declared a horse he purchased himself at the Godolphin sale in April, when he signed, at Dh500,000, for Bowditch who appeared to not to handle conditions at Jebel Ali on his local debut before probably finding 1600m too sharp at Abu Dhabi on his only other appearance.
Victorious twice, on all-weather surfaces in the UK for Princess Haya and John Gosden, he was doing his winning over 2000m and 1700m so, hopefully, this step up in trip will suit. Of course, as strong as Watson’s charge’s claims appear, luck in running is often paramount on the tight Abu Dhabi turns and he has already suffered the bad luck when drawn widest of all in 14.
Plenty will be hoping to take advantage of that with Sheikh Hamdan’s Mashaheer, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and the mount of Jim Crowley perhaps heading the list receiving weight from his 13 rivals. For Sheikh Ahmed and Nicholas Bachalard, Chris Hayes rides Outre Mer who did not show much on his first start for the team at Meydan last week but was entitled to need the run. Ismail Mohammed has his string in fine form so Tribal Conquest merits a mention as does stable companion Nibras Galaxy but Bowditch, despite the draw, still appears the one to beat. The best of the Purebred Arabian action is a 1600m handicap and, again, has attracted the maximum field of 14.
Ernst Oertel saddles AF Maher for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the pair responsible for thee runners in total in another tricky event for Pick Six players. He landed a 1700m Prestige event, the GG Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup at Sharjah on his seasonal debut before disappointing in a handicap, over this Abu Dhabi 1600m. He bounced back, again over course and distance, when caught close home by Bainoona, another in opposition for Sheikh Khalifa and Lemartinel. The trainer, for Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan, also saddles RB Lam Tara, winner of her only start to date, a course and distance maiden and who receives weight from ten of her rivals. Interestingly, of the Al Nabooda and Oertel trio, Tadhg O’Shea has opted for AF Asheham who has been running consistently well this term without winning.
Sheikh Hamdan’s AF Monsef was fourth in that race but, over 1400m at Abu Dhabi, did beat Al Maher in the 2016 Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, another contest afforded Prestige status. JAP Yajoud has been in fine form for Irfan Ellahi and Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum, while, saddled by Younis Al Kalbani, Ghazayel made a winning local debut in another Abu Dhabi Prestige event, the 1600m Emirates Fillies Classic last February. They are just two further names to add to a rapidly growing shortlist in a fascinating clash.
Race 1: Shawall
Race 2: Algharbi
Race 3: RB Lam Tara (Nap)
Race 4: Raniah
Race 5: Foaad
Race 6: Bowditch (NB)