Shadwell UAE Season Preview Week 3, 2017

Posted on: 14th Nov 2017

MURAAQIB winner of the 2017 Group 1 Jewel Crown

There was a dramatic conclusion to the Group I Jewel Crown – the world’s richest Arabian race – on Friday when HH Sheikh Hamdan’s Muraaqib clinched it in the Stewards’ Room.

The hitherto five-time Group I winner was second over the line behind defending champion RB Burn, but had the result changed in his favour after jockey Jim Crowley lodged an objection.

“We’d rather win on the turf than in the Stewards’ Room,” said trainer Francois Rohaut, “but what we saw today was two great champions. Unless Sheikh Hamdan decides something else, Muraaqib will stay in training and we will keep to a mile and aim at the races at Goodwood, Istanbul and here in Abu Dhabi again.”

A day earlier, Doug Watson unveiled an exciting new recruit for the Shadwell team when Almanaara won on his local debut, blasting home in the 1200metre handicap at Meydan. A half-brother to Dark Angel, he has now been given a mark of 89, meaning a spot at next year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival could be within reach.

There are just two meetings in the UAE this week, with Jebel Ali and Sharjah both staging their second cards of the campaign. Second retained rider Dane O’Neill returns to action and wears the first silks, with Jim Crowley having travelled back to the UK.

Sheikh Hamdan runs seven at Jebel Ali on Friday, with race two, a 1400metre handicap, seeing the Maria Ritchie-trained Kidd Malibu aim for a second course and distance win, after landing a maiden here in February. Beaten eight lengths here a fortnight ago, the return to this trip is in his favour, as is a 2lb drop in the weights.

Sheikh Hamdan’s Derrinstown Stud sponsors the feature race, a 1400metre Rated Conditions event. Group 3 winner Shaishee make his seasonal reappearance here for Ritchie and conditions should suit him, as the seven-year-old is a three-time winner over course and distance. Now 6lbs lower than for the most recent of those successes in March 2016, he is in with a chance here under Jesus Rosales.

Ritchie also runs Azmaan, who makes his debut at the track having transferred last year from Richard Hannon in the UK. A Dark Angel half-brother to Group 2 winner Alhebayeb, he remains full of potential in the UAE and is the mount of Royston Ffrench.

O’Neill, however, has elected to ride Mushaakis, who is also a three-time winner over this track and trip. Well-beaten here two weeks ago, he may have needed that run and cannot be dismissed on his best form, from a handy draw in two.

The maiden, over 1200metres, sees the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Al Abyad aim to improve on his fifth at Sharjah on Saturday.  The three-year-old son of Awesome Of Course showed good pace there but might appreciate this step back up in trip in what looks a competitive contest.

Bin Harmash, who has made a good start to the season, also saddles Al Barez in the penultimate race, an 1800metre handicap. A winner on debut here over 1400metres, he was well held subsequently, but makes his first start since March and takes a drop down in grade, having contested Listed company last time.

Lastly, old boy Qannaas, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, completes the charge in the concluding 1800metre handicap. Both his wins came over shorter than this, and were back in 2013, but he remains competitive at this level and should strip fitter for his run here two weeks ago.

Sharjah, on Saturday, stages the valuable HE Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup for Purebred Arabians in which track specialist The Secret runs for Doug Watson. A five-time winner at the course, he has a solid chance once again here under leading Sharjah jockey Sam Hitchcott.

Speaking of course specialists, another who loves it around Sharjah is Watheeq, who faces a full field of 15 in the 2000metre Handicap; the only Thoroughbred race on the card. Winner of this race in 2013 and 2015, he will attempt to roll back the years from stall 14, under O’Neill. 

By Laura King

Tags: uae, dubai, abu dhabi, arabian, shadwell,

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