Shadwell 2016/17 UAE Season Preview- Week 1

Posted on: 26th Oct 2016

MUARRAB took the Group 1 Golden Shaheen in 2016 under Paul Hanagan in the colours of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

We are delighted to welcome to the Shadwell website a regular update from the UAE by Dubai Racing Channel Presenter Laura King, who will be reporting on the runners in the colours of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum during the 2016/17 racing season.

A superb 2015-16 UAE season saw HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum crowned Champion Owner with 67 winners, some 32 more than his closest rival. Among those was a double on the big Dubai World Cup night, with Muarrab and AF Mathmoon taking the Group 1 Golden Shaheen and Kahayla Classic, respectively.

Such a successful year means that Sheikh Hamdan’s horses have a lot to live up to during the forthcoming season, which gets underway at Jebel Ali on Friday. In total, HH has nine runners this weekend, with eight of them carrying the famous silks up the Jebel Ali hill, where Shadwell are the main sponsors.

Paul Hanagan, first retained jockey to Sheikh Hamdan, is currently suspended, so with Dane O’Neill required in the UK, neither Shadwell rider is in the UAE this weekend. That means that leading apprentice Marc Monaghan takes the ride on the first runner, Tartoor, who goes in the opening handicap, over 1950metres.

Starting his second season in the UAE for trainer Erwan Charpy, Tartoor was previously based in the UK with Ed Dunlop and, although he is yet to register a victory in 10 starts, the son of Oasis Dream posted a good last-up effort in March when fourth over course and distance. A repeat of that effort, plus natural improvement for having spent a summer in Dubai, can see him make the frame in a race which is not that competitive on paper.

 In the following race, a 1600metre handicap, Sheikh Hamdan runs top weight Almohtaseb and Tabreek, both trained by Doug Watson. The former, a homebred Oasis Dream gelding, won a Doncaster maiden for Roger Varian in July 2015 and is another who should improve in his second season here. However, it will be tough for him to concede weight to all bar one rival and Tabreek, the mount of Group I-winning jockey Pat Dobbs, is the pick of the pair. He only had two starts here last season and wasn’t disgraced when fifth on the second of them. Very much bred for his dirt surface, even a normal amount of improvement could see him in the frame here.

Race three, a 1000metre handicap, is the feature on the card and Shadwell have a strong hand with four runners. By far the best on form is Rafeej, a six-time winner who was placed in Listed company last season. Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s entire son of Iffraaj won at Jebel Ali impressively in March and is the class act here, provided the drop back to the minimum distance doesn’t inconvenience him too much.

Sharing top weight with Rafeej is stablemate Mubtaghaa, who was a smart two-year-old when trained in the UK by William Haggas, being Listed and Group-placed.  He is yet to really fire on dirt, however, and connections may have a turf target in mind for him later in the season. Al Mheiri also runs Mushir, who is yet to win in the Emirates but did post a good fourth place over course and distance last season, so should not be easily dismissed under last year’s leading apprentice George Buckell.

The fourth Shadwell representative in the race is Greeb, ridden by Sam Hitchcott for Watson. He tries dirt for the first time, and, if adapting, has each way claims on the back of some good runs in defeat at Meydan last season.  He should be even better back on turf later on, however.

The final Shadwell runner at Jebel Ali this week is Qannaas, who has good course form but has not won since 2013. Nevertheless, Ali Al Rayhi’s stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea has picked him over a stable mate, saying: “Qannaas has a good first-up record, which is why I’ve gone for him here. He’s fit and well and should be able to do himself justice.”

Over to Sharjah’s Saturday card, where the sole representative in the blue and white is Zaffaan, who goes in the featured 2000metre handicap, for trainer Al Mheiri and jockey Fernando Jara. An eight-year-old who won here in February over 2700metres, he may find things happening a little too quickly on this occasion.  

By Laura King

Tags: uae, dubai, jebel ali, meydan, racing, shadwell,

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