HH Sheikh Hamdan added to his haul of winners in the UAE on Saturday when the talented Arabian Sauternes Al Maury landed a third career success at Al Ain.
Ridden by Dane O’Neill, the nine-year-old has only won at this track and this was another smooth success, by two and a quarter lengths. The victory might be his final one, however, with trainer Doug Watson indicating his career is drawing to a close.
“He was entitled to win that and it’s nice to see him get his head back in front,” said the trainer. “He has always had plenty of ability, but hasn’t always been the most straightforward. I imagine we will retire him now.”
There are three meetings in the UAE this weekend, beginning with Carnival night two at Meydan, in which the Group 2 Cape Verdi and Listed UAE 1,000 Guineas are the features.
The Shadwell team don’t have runners in either of those but they are busy in the mile turf handicap, race six. The highest-rated of Sheikh Hamdan’s four entries here is Mutamaasik, who makes a belated UAE debut having moved from Roger Varian in the UK.
A smart performer there, having recorded four wins in a row in 2019, he is well regarded by the Watson team and these conditions should suit him. He goes from stall nine under Dane O’Neill, with the returning Jim Crowley having chosen to ride the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Moqtarreb, who was a fine fourth here over seven furlongs two weeks ago.
A winner over this trip at Newmarket, he should again give a good showing and is well drawn in two.
Alfareeq makes his local debut, having moved to Musabbeh Al Mheiri from Freddy Head in France. The winner of one of his seven starts, the four-year-old has been consistent throughout his short career and this is his first run since being gelded.
Al Mheiri also runs Zainhom, who was third, just in front of Moqtarreb, here last time out. He missed the break on that occasion so is entitled to run well again, over the distance of his most recent win which came at Jebel Ali in November 2019.
Meydan hosts a six-race domestic card on Saturday, and Karnavaal aims for a first local win in the 11 furlong dirt handicap, race three. An unlucky second when out-battled close home last time, Al Mheiri’s chestnut should run well again, albeit off a 2lb higher mark and from a tough draw in 11.
The Gulf News Handicap, race four, over a mile on turf, has four Shadwell representatives. They include Almoreb, who has been in good form this season and is the choice of Crowley. He reverts to grass for the first time since March. The Raven’s Pass gelding has good form on this surface, however, including when third over course and distance in April of 2019.
Al Salt is a newcomer to the Erwan Charpy team, having moved from William Haggas in England. A four-year-old son of Mukhadram, he has won two of just five starts, both on the all weather, and this looks a good starting point for him, under French rider Clement Lecoeuvre.
Watson runs Bawaasil, who is yet to win here but did run well when only beaten just over four lengths at Abu Dhabi on his latest start in November. Dobbs rides him with O’Neill on Tafaakhor, who runs two weeks after finishing a close third here over 10 furlongs. Back at a mile should suit him better and he is another in with a chance.
The mile dirt handicap, race five, looks open but Mayaadeen is one of few in there with winning form this season. That success came over arguably his best trip of seven furlongs but he has run well again since and won’t be far away, although O’Neill has stall 12 to contend with.
The Shadwell team do very well in turf sprints here and run six in the closing five furlong agnc3 Handicap. They include Etisalat, who has a five pound rise for beating several of these over course and distance last time. He goes from stall 14 this time and Sandro Paiva once again takes the ride.
Behind him that day was Taneen, the mount of Crowley, who has run well since at Jebel Ali, where he finished a spot in front of Raafid, who carries top weight here. A winner over six furlongs here in 2019, Raafid is now a pound below that success and will appreciate being back on turf.
Raafid’s trainer Al Rayhi also saddles Tashaaboh, who was sixth behind Etisalat last time. Still lightly raced, there might be more to come from this son of Lethal Force who will break from post 15 under O’Neill.
The same applies to Watson’s Alfolk, who is gradually returning to the form which saw him successful at Group level in Australia. Fourth last time at Abu Dhabi, the return to this trip is very much in his favour, as is the booking of jockey Pat Dobbs.
Kawasir, who is yet to add to his maiden win on dirt in November 2018, also takes his chance and this will be just his second run on grass since moving to the UAE. Bernardo Pinheiro rides him from stall ten.