Shadwell UAE Season Preview Week 13

Posted on: 16th Jan 2019

The iconic setting of Meydan: there is lots of high-class action at the track this week

There are four meetings this weekend in the UAE, with Meydan’s third Carnival meeting getting it all underway on Thursday.

The six furlong dirt sprint, race one, is one of the most interesting races of the night, and HH Sheikh Hamdan has a live chance of winning it with Almanaara. The Shamardal half-brother to Dark Angel was well-held on seasonal debut but trainer Doug Watson is convinced he is over any issues and he is well capable of winning this, from pole position in stall one.

The penultimate race is a 10 furlong turf handicap, where the admirable Jaaref makes his fifth start of the season for trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. Beaten six lengths in a mile and a half handicap two weeks ago, this lesser trip should suit him and he might be able to lead this small field, which also plays to his strengths.

Meydan Thursday card

Mike de Kock’s Suyoof is joint top weight in the mile turf contest, the final event on the card. A good fifth on his seasonal return two weeks ago, the six-year-old should have come on for that run, although it is a mild concern that he is yet to win over further than seven furlongs. He will be ridden by Dane O’Neill, with Jim Crowley choosing to partner David Hayes’ Muraaqeb, who he rode in a gallop on Tuesday. The son of Snitzel has been competitive in Group 1 company during the Australian winter and also has a Group 3 win over this trip on his resume. This is a drop in class, and he will surely be competitive, although he doesn’t have the best of the draw, starting from stall 10.

The action rolls on to Al Ain on Friday, where Erwan Charpy runs Thaaqib in the 10 furlong Thoroughbred handicap. The five-year-old has had a month off since running down the field at Jebel Ali in December, and runs at Al Ain for the first time in his career. He will break from post six and faces a full field of 14 rivals, under Crowley.

Meydan hosts a strong domestic card on Saturday, with seven Thoroughbred races, including two on turf.

Meydan Saturday card

The mile dirt handicap, race two, sees Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Takatul with a live chance. The six-year-old has been second three times this season and runs at Meydan for the first time in his career. The return to a flat track should suit him, and he is very much respected here, after a break of 22 days since a good second at Jebel Ali.

Crowley rides him over Moqarrar, who makes his dirt debut after running down the field on turf two weeks ago; his Dubai debut. By Exchange Rate out of a Distorted Humor mare, Erwan Charpy’s four-year-old is bred for this surface and is an interesting prospect.

The six furlong dirt handicap sees Taamol, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, drop in trip, after running over a mile for his last three starts. Impressive over seven furlongs in November, he will relish this sharper test and can surely go close from a good draw in three.

Taamol faces five others, including Fawaareq, for O’Neill and Watson. Making just his third local start, the ex-Owen Burrows trainee should act on the dirt, being by Invincible Spirit and out of a Forestry mare, but nevertheless this is a run which will tell connections more about him.

The seven furlong turf handicap is fiercely competitive, and Sheikh Hamdan is represented by Shajjy and Farook. Crowley rides the latter, who returns to turf for the first time since March. A winner three times at Jebel Ali last season, he has also run well in defeat this term and can give another strong account.

Shajjy runs on this surface for the first time since his UAE debut, when he was behind Farook in that same race in March. Unplaced since, he may well prefer these conditions, although he runs off a higher turf mark.

The second mile dirt handicap sees Junthoor make his debut for Erwan Charpy, having been with William Haggas in the UK. A four-year-old gelded son of Shamardal, his only win in five starts to date came in a Thirsk novice contest and he is open to improvement if adapting to this surface.

The fourth and final meeting of the weekend is at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, where multiple Group 1 winner Al Zahir is the star turn in the President’s Cup Prep, over 11 furlongs. Al Rayhi’s President’s Cup and Emirates Championship winner gives two kilos to the field here, but will still be hard to beat, having run a good second on dirt last time out.

Al Zahir’s 13 rivals include Sauternes Al Maury, who returns to turf after finishing seventh, beaten less than seven lengths, in the Listed Madjani Stakes at Meydan a month ago.

The last race of the weekend is a seven furlong Thoroughbred handicap, in which Al Rayhi’s Tafaakhor returns to the scene of his latest win. A good third at Meydan last time, he drops in trip here but should still have a say in the finish under Crowley.

That leaves O’Neill with the ride on Mujeeb, for Charpy, who has been behind Tafaakhor on his last two starts. He too can finish in the frame, from a good draw in four.

Laura King

Tags: meydan; alain; abudhabi; shadwell; sheikhhamdan; lauraking; carnival,

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