Shadwell UAE Season Preview Week 18

Posted on: 20th Feb 2019

Muntazah: easy winner of the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes at Meydan last week

HH Sheikh Hamdan is enjoying a fantastic spell with his UAE-based team at the moment and Al Zahir’s Group 1 win in Abu Dhabi was quickly followed by the success of Muntazah in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes at Meydan on Thursday.

Ridden by Jim Crowley and trained by Doug Watson, Muntazah beat a top-class field, including 2018 Godolphin Mile winner Heavy Metal, by four a half lengths, and Crowley is excited.

“We went quick, as you would expect, and I’d like to think there’s a bit more to come from him, “said Shadwell’s number one jockey. “He feels a better horse than 12 months ago. I still don’t think he is there yet and he will keep progressing.”

There are three local meetings this weekend, starting with fixture eight of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan on Thursday. The feature is the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, race five, in which Janoobi will defend his title.

The Mike De Kock-trained five-year-old reverts to turf from a run on dirt last week, which he didn’t seem to handle, subsequently being eased and not having a hard race. This test will suit him better and he and Crowley have the best of the draw in one. However, this is perhaps a stronger renewal than in 2018 and he has a formidable Godolphin team to beat.

There are two other Group races on the card and Shadwell run Muzdawaj in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes, race three, over 10 furlongs on turf. A good winner of a non-Carnival handicap at the start of the month, Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Dansili gelding steps back up in trip here and this is a notably higher grade, but he enters in good form and should run well.

The mile turf handicap closes out the card and plucky Jaaref has his seventh run of the season here. The Al Rashid Al Rayhi-trained son of Sea The Stars is better than he showed when well-beaten over course and distance last time and resumes off a 2lb lower mark.

He will be ridden by Dane O’Neill, with Eshtiraak the mount of Crowley. Trained by David Hayes, the four-year-old has run two good races so far in Dubai, finishing fifth, beaten just three lengths, behind Escalator three weeks ago. Improving all the time, he can go close here from a good draw in two.

The night begins with a seven furlong dirt handicap, which is the only race over this course and distance at the Carnival and has therefore been well-supported. Sheikh Hamdan runs Almanaara and Moqarrab; the former making a quick return for Watson after finishing fifth over six furlongs last week. He’s the pick of Crowley, however, and has won at this distance when trained in the UK.

Moqarrab, meanwhile, has his first start for Al Mheiri after leaving Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin, and he will attempt to build on two career successes, both of which have come at Wolverhampton. Recently gelded and trying dirt for the first time, this $400,000 son of Speightstown should relish the surface and is an intriguing local recruit, although he has the worst of the draw in 12.

The six furlong turf handicap, race two, sees Ekhtiyaar make his second start for trainer Doug Watson. A fine third over seven furlongs on the opening night of the Carnival, the Bated Breath gelding returns to the trip of all three of his career wins so far and can make his presence felt here, being held in high regard by his trainer.

Jebel Ali hosts two Listed races on a strong Friday card and the nine and a half furlong Stakes is the first of them.

Erwan Charpy has a good record in Jebel Ali feature races and his Moqarrar is an interesting runner here. A good winner over a mile at Meydan last month, he was drawn wide when subsequently beaten there and this is his Jebel Ali debut, over a trip he is also yet to try. He has drawn well in seven, however, and it looks an open contest.

The team have three in the Listed five furlong Jebel Ali Sprint, and Crowley rides Thammin, who has just his second local start for Al Mheiri. A five-year-old Dark Angel gelding, he made an eye-catching local debut when third at Meydan on turf three weeks ago and has leading claims here.

O’Neill partners Shajjy, who was a good second to the re-opposing High On Life here last time and can again have a say, while Afolk has his fourth UAE run for Mike De Kock, but first at Jebel Ali.

The second race, a mile handicap, looks very interesting and Almushref went into plenty of notebooks when a good third behind Galles here two weeks ago. This drop back to a mile looks likely to suit Al Mheiri’s charge and he is the choice of Crowley, with O’Neill on local newcomer Etisalat. Now with Ali Al Rayhi having moved from Owen Burrows, the Lethal Force gelding has won two of his seven starts so far and tries dirt for the first time.

Race five is over just shy of 10 furlongs and Mujeeb represents Charpy. A strong third over a mile here last time, he has won over as far as nine furlongs in France and is one to be considered in an open race which also includes stablemate Thaaqib. The grey travelled well before dropping out of the placings at Sharjah on Saturday, and may well be ridden with more cover this time.

Four carry the blue and white in the closing six furlong dash, including Alraased, a game five furlong winner at this track two weeks ago. Again ridden by Crowley, the veteran is now 4lbs higher but should go well again. He’s up against three-time course winner Farook, for Charpy and O’Neill, who should like being back at Jebel Ali, having run well at Meydan earlier on this season.

Al Mheiri runs two; Jebel Ali maiden winner Kidd Malibu is aiming to build on his course and distance second two starts ago, while Sahaafy also has some useful form here and cannot be ruled out.

Sharjah hosts its final meeting of the season on Saturday, and Sheikh Hamdan runs two in the Thoroughbred handicap over six furlongs, which has a capacity field of 16. Four-year-old Alkhalifa has been in good form this season and returns from a month off for Crowley and Al Rayhi. Trying Sharjah for the first time, he was third at Jebel Ali last time out.

That leaves O’Neill with the ride on Al Mheiri’s Mutawakked, another Sharjah debutant. A good fifth last time on turf at Abu Dhabi, he drops back in trip here and is capable of having a say in the finish.

Laura King

Tags: shadwell; meydan; sharjah; jebelali; sheikhhamdan; lauraking,

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