Shadwell 2017/2018 UAE season preview - Week 1

Posted on: 31st Oct 2017

ERTIJAAL winning the group 3 Meydan Sprint in 2017 under Jim Crowley

We are delighted to welcome back 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 2017/18 racing season.

The opening week of the 2017-18 UAE season sees HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum well-represented as usual, with runners at Jebel Ali on Friday and Abu Dhabi on Saturday. With Jim Crowley still required in the UK, and Dane O’Neill suspended, the famous blue and white silks will be worn by some slightly less-familiar jockeys this weekend.

Trainer Ahmad bin Harmash did well early on last season with his Shadwell runners and he bids to start quickly again with Al Madam, who runs in the 1950metre handicap at Jebel Ali.  Yet to win in five starts, the three-year-old filly tries this trip for the first time on her handicap debut and has reportedly summered well at Bin Harmash’s base.

Shadwell sponsors the feature race, a sprint handicap over 1000metres, and will have two runners. The Maria Ritchie-trained Sahaafy tries the minimum trip for the first time, but is a winner at the track, having landed a 1400metre handicap here in 2016. He has plenty of early speed, so is worth a try over shorter. He faces 11 rivals, including the Al Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Kasb, who missed last season but went close in three runs at Jebel Ali in 2016. Still quite lightly-raced, he resumes off a 2lb lower mark and it will be interesting to see how he fares on his return.

The 1000metre maiden looks competitive and Bin Harmash runs two for Shadwell, including three-year-old Girolamo colt Sabegg who will aim to improve this season, having finished unplaced on his two starts thus far. Pat Cosgrave takes the ride on him, while Bin Harmash’s current stable jockey Connor Beasley partners the Mizzen Mast colt Taj Almulook. The three-year-old makes a belated debut, having failed to make the track last season.

There is AED80,000 on the table for the competitive Commercial Bank of Dubai Handicap, over 1200metres, and the 80-rated Kidd Malibu heads the weights. A good winner of a 1400metre maiden here in February, he was then fifth in a handicap but has plenty of speed and is interesting over this shorter trip, under Fernando Jara.

The final race, the ESM Sports Handicap, sees the reliable eight-year-old Qannaas make the 38th start of his career. His most recent win came back in 2013, but he is 20lbs lower than that mark now and usually goes well fresh.

Abu Dhabi deviates from its usual Sunday night meetings this season and opens on Saturday, with a primarily Purebred Arabian card.

The 1400metre Arabian maiden, race two, has attracted a field of 16, including Sheikh Hamdan’s four-year-old Ainhoa Topchef, who makes his UAE debut for Erwan Charpy. Formerly trained in France where he was third at Toulouse on his most recent start in November 2016, he is an interesting addition to the local string, with Antonio Fresu taking the ride.

Sheikh Hamdan runs four in the highly competitive Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup Prep, over 1600metres, with Bon Baiser De Faust carrying the first silks. Winner of the Madjani Stakes at Meydan last season, he takes a big drop in grade here, having contested the Group I Dubai Kahayla Classic when last seen. He is yet to win at Abu Dhabi, but surely has the class to change that, and will be ridden by Doug Watson’s stable jockey Pat Dobbs.

Watson also trains Sauternes Al Maury, who chased home Bon Baiser De Faust at Meydan and is a dual winner on dirt at Al Ain. A lightly-raced five-year-old, he tries turf for the first time here and is not without a chance. He carries the red cap, with joint top weight Al Zahir sporting the black. Making just his third start for Al Rayhi, the four-year-old has won his last three starts, including two Group 3s, and is very much the one to beat here under Tadhg O’Shea. The Shadwell quartet is completed by the filly Aljazi, second on her Abu Dhabi debut in March, who is also trained by Al Rayhi.

Over in America, Sheikh Hamdan’s Takaful, winner of the Grade I Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park, has drawn post seven for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, in which he faces nine rivals, including defending champion Drefong. 

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