Shadwell UAE Season Preview - Week 11

Posted on: 7th Jan 2020

Muntazah: the high-class performer is back in action this week

The 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival started brilliantly for HH Sheikh Hamdan, who claimed a win with Almanaara in the five furlong turf contest. A half-brother to the top stallion Dark Angel, Almanaara had been campaigned on dirt since arriving in the UAE, with two wins, but relished the switch back to grass here. Ridden by Dane O’Neill for trainer Doug Watson, the son of Shamardal won well, by a length and three-quarters.

Watson said: “This was a horse who always used to work really well, but perhaps not so much lately, so we decided to try him on turf and it has worked out well. It is great to get a Carnival winner for Sheikh Hamdan.”

There are eight races at the Carnival this week, and Sheikh Hamdan runs a team of seven. This week’s feature is G2 Maktoum Challenge Round 1, over a mile on the dirt, which sees the return of the exciting Muntazah. Third in this race last year, he went on to win the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes and the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, both over course and distance, before finishing third to Coal Front in the G2 Godolphin Mile on World Cup day. A strapping son of Dubawi, Muntazah might need this first run of the season, but he is a very exciting prospect for the rest of the campaign, with the $12million Dubai World Cup likely to be his ultimate target.

Race two is a six furlong turf handicap, in which Watson’s Ekhtiyaar heads the weights. Fifth when tried on dirt in December, the son of Bated Breath will have garnered plenty of fitness from that run solid claims here, despite giving three kilos and more to his seven rivals. They include Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Moqarrab, who is yet to win on turf in three tries on the surface, but has plenty of ability, as seen when second here over seven furlong last season. He carries just 53 kilos and is the mount of Antonio Fresu, while Fernando Jara rides Raafid. Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s seven-year-old won a non-Carnival handicap over course and distance last season and makes a quick return to action here; having been eighth to Almanaara last week.

There are two divisions of the mile turf handicap, and Gabr takes his chance in the first of them. A smart type when with Sir Michael Stoute; he shaped with promise on the first of his two starts for Watson and has a class edge here. He will break from stall 13 under Jim Crowley.

In the same race, O’Neill rides Yaalail for Al Rayhi. The five-year-old son of Intello is looking for his second win in a row, having landed a competitive seven furlong handicap at Abu Dhabi last time. Just four pounds higher here, he is well-drawn in five.

The second division, race eight, sees Muzdawaj line up for Al Mheiri and Crowley. A winner in domestic company last season, when scoring over nine furlongs here, he reappears for the first time this campaign, but does have a good record fresh, giving him an each-way shot in an open race.

The Shadwell team run just one on Sunday’s Abu Dhabi card; in race three, a mile Arabian handicap. Munbaher, a son of Madjani, runs for the first time since March 2018. A useful performer in the UK before moving to Dubai, he is likely to improve fitness-wise for this first run in almost two years.

Laura King

Tags: shadwell; meydan; 2020worldcupcarnival; sheikhhamdan,

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