DRC Carnival Week 4 - Shadwell Preview

Posted on: 25th Jan 2017

HANDASSA won the Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 for HH Sheikh Hamdan in 2016.


A big weekend of racing in the UAE sees nine Carnival runners for HH Sheikh Hamdan at Meydan on Thursday. He has an excellent chance of winning another Purebred Arabian Group I, with three horses in Maktoum Challenge Round 2, over 2200metres.


Francois Rohaut’s talented Handassa won Round 3 last year, before finishing fourth in the Kahayla Classic and then landing a Group 2 in Turkey. He is the choice of retained jockey Jim Crowley, who said: “I sat on Handassa last week and I’m really looking forward to riding him. He just got too far behind in the Kahayla Classic, but with the headgear back on he should run a really big race.”


The Madjani entire is one of three Group I winners in the race, including Versac PY, who bids for a first win in this contest at the fourth attempt. Now ten years old, he might just need this run on his seasonal bow. He is overlooked by Dane O’Neill, who partners Bon Baiser Du Faust, who was a staying-on fourth in Round I last time out.


Onto the Thoroughbreds, and Crowley rides Khusoosy in the 2410metre turf handicap. Progressive last year, he has been off the track since winning the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship in Marchs, but has every chance here if resuming in the same vein of form.


Khusoosy’s stablemate Munaaser has been busy this season, and Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s six-year-old has his second run in a week in the 1600metre dirt handicap. He’s down in trip here, something which Crowley feels might suit him, commenting: “I know he’s won over 2000metres but I think he’s more of a miler; it’s a case of trying not to let him do too much early on.”


The closing 1200metre turf handicap hosts a three-pronged Shadwell attack, with Crowley opting for top weight Fityaan. A good fifth over course and distance a fortnight ago, he is better drawn, in 15, on this occasion and is one to consider in an open race. He faces the Mike De Kock-trained pair of Banaadeer and Mastermind, both of whom drop a furlong in trip. O’Neill has chosen Banaadeer, who shaped well in a 1400metre event last time, while Bernard Fayd’herbe partners Mastermind, who returns quickly after pitching onto his nose at the stalls when well-held at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.


A select team of three travel to Al Ain on Friday, where Alraased and Entifaadha clash in the card’s 1400metre Thoroughbred handicap. The former, the choice of Crowley, is a gutsy frontrunner who will appreciate the drop in trip here and has a big chance, while Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Entifaadha goes well around this course and also cannot be ruled out.


The Secret is the only Arabian runner for the team on Friday, and Doug Watson’s quirky charge tries the minimum 1000metre distance for the first time. He also returns from a two-month break and faces a tough task in what looks a strong race for the grade.


Meydan stages a non-Carnival meeting on Saturday, in which Sheikh Hamdan has 11 contenders. Two go in the 1200metre dirt handicap, race four, with Crowley on Alareef for De Kock. Well-beaten last time after missing the break, he will be seen to better effect this time over arguably his ideal trip. O’Neill takes him on with Estidraak, who made his local debut on turf at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, finishing ninth. Trying dirt for the first time, his Iffraaj parentage means he should handle it and he is one of the least exposed in the line-up.


The 1800metre turf handicap is very competitive and sees a newcomer to the Shadwell Dubai string in the form of Ijmaaly. Ridden by apprentice Cameron Noble, the well-bred son of Makfi is two from three so far in his career and looks an interesting recruit, having previously been trained by Saeed Bin Suroor. He is one of four runners for the Sheikh in the race, with Crowley on Zamaam, who takes a notable drop in grade having run a good fourth at the Carnival last time. He should get the strong pace he needs here and is a leading contender, while O’Neill’s mount Mutasayyid needs to bounce back from two below-par efforts. The fourth runner is Jawhar, a course and distance winner back in 2014, who will be ridden by Pat Dobbs for trainer Watson.


The penultimate race, over 2200metres on dirt, sees Sharjah specialist Watheeq return to Meydan, where he struggled somewhat last time, as did Tartoor, who is probably better at Al Ain these days.


Better chances of a winner come in the closing 1400metre turf handicap, where Greeb and Crowley face Mutamakkin and O’Neill. The latter, another De Kock inmate, is well-regarded at home and should be better now in his second UAE season, while Greeb was an excellent third in a similar race last year and may be best caught fresh, as he will be this time. Both must be considered in an open race.


Five carry the blue and white silks at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, headed by Jabal Aly and Ashraaf who clash in the 2200metre Arabian handicap. Both have been running well of late and can have a say here, with Erwan Charpy’s Jabal Aly expected to see the trip out best.


The card’s only Thoroughbred race is typically competitive and Ehtedaam and Mundahesh carry the Shadwell hopes. UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea partners the latter, who is a three-time local winner, but all over 1400metres, 1000 shorter than he tries this time. Jacob Butterfield rides Ehtedaam, who is yet to really fire since joining Al Rayhi.


Finally, the same stable’s El Salaam steps back up to his preferred mile in the final race and is in with a chance of gaining his second UAE win, this time in the hands of Crowley.


By Laura King

Tags: group 1; maktoum challenge; meydan; dubai world cup carnival; shadwell; arabian; thoroughbred;,

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