Shadwell UAE Season Preview - Week 1

Posted on: 22nd Oct 2019

Meydan: racing returns to the iconic venue this week

UAE racing is back and, for the first time since the course was built in 2010, the action kicks off at Meydan which hosts six races on Thursday night.

HH Sheikh Hamdan once again has a strong team in place as he looks to regain the owners’ title and will run 12 across the weekend, starting with Alraased in the six furlong handicap.

The ten-year-old veteran is trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and he won once last season from 11 starts. Up a pound to 75 after ending the campaign in good form, he is largely reliable and should be able to make his presence felt in a small field, from a good draw in one. Sandro Paiva rides in place of Sheikh Hamdan’s two retained jockeys, Jim Crowley and Dane O’Neill, who are yet to return to the UAE.

The 10-furlong handicap is one of two races carrying an AED185,000 prize pot and the Shadwell team rely on Mudaarab, trained by Erwan Charpy. The five-year-old runs on Meydan’s dirt track for the first time, but did put in a good performances in defeat during a three-race campaign last season, including a third at Abu Dhabi. Being by Distorted Humor, the surface switch should suit although he may strip fitter for this first run since January and also has a wide draw in 11 for jockey Fabrice Veron to contend with.

Charpy is also responsible for what may well be Sheikh Hamdan’s best runner of the night, Moqarrar, in the mile handicap. A winner on his dirt debut over course and distance last season, he is yet to match that form but faces much easier company this time round, now 2lbs lower in the handicap. Drawn in nine, he is also partnered by Veron.

Moqarrar faces two others carrying the white and blue silks, including Etisalat who ended his 2018-19 campaign with a good win at Al Ain. 5lbs higher for that success, he ran well on his only previous run on Meydan’s dirt and has a big chance here for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, who always has his horses fit from the off.

The trio is completed by Watson’s Mayaadeen, who steps up to a mile after being well-held over seven furlongs on his only two local starts. A late arrival to the UAE last season, he will have improved for a year here and is to be feared, although a wide draw in 11 might be tricky for jockey Sam Hitchcott.

Abu Dhabi begins its season on Friday with six races on the turf. Foaad, trained by Watson, will be Sheikh Hamdan’s first Purebred Arabian runner of the campaign when he contests the 11-furlong handicap. Tricky but talented, Foaad hasn’t won on grass since his European days but was a close sixth over course and distance last season, from a wide draw. A repeat of that effort can see him finish in the frame here.

There is typically fierce competition in the only Thoroughbred race, a handicap over a mile, in which Sheikh Hamdan runs five. The top weight is Bawaasil, who is another embarking on his second season in the UAE. Making his Abu Dhabi debut, the Oasis Dream gelding now races off a 3lb lower mark but Pat Dobbs could find things tough from the widest stall of all in 16.

His rivals include Juthoor, who was an impressive winner over course and distance in February. Trained by Charpy, he found Meydan company a little tough subsequently but has a fighting chance now back in the capital.

Charpy also runs Mujeeb, who ran consistently well last season, without managing to win. Both dirt and turf seem to come alike to him and he is now 4lb lower than when fourth over course and distance in December last year. Drawn well in four, he should again run well under jockey Jesus Rosales.

Jahaafel makes his Abu Dhabi debut, having had just one start in the Emirates for Musabbeh Al Mheiri. A four-year-old son of Style Vendome, he is likely to appreciate being back on turf and is interesting on his European form, which includes a win at Chepstow.

Al Mheiri’s new stable jockey Antonio Fresu has opted to partner Jahaafel over Kawasir, who has only had one start since a narrow Meydan maiden success in November. Back on turf here, he is consistent and cannot be ruled out, although stall 15 will make it hard for him.

The Shadwell quintet is rounded out by four-year-old Mashaheer, who finished second to Juthoor on his penultimate start in February. Well-beaten on his only start since, he is nevertheless far from dismissed as he embarks on his second season here, with Fernando Jara riding for his boss Al Rayhi.

Laura King

Tags: #sheikhhamdan #meydan #uae,

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