His Highness Sheikh Hamdan added to his successful UAE campaign with two smart winners last weekend.
First up came Motafaawit, who caused something of a surprise when landing the closing five-furlong turf handicap on Meydan’s Carnival card. Trained by Doug Watson, the five-year-old son of Intikhab cruised home by two and a half lengths under Sam Hitchcott and is now rated 103, meaning he could have a tilt at the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on Super Saturday.
The Shadwell team’s second winner of the weekend came in another sprint; Taneen taking the six-furlong turf event on Saturday. Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, this was the second local win for the gelding, who was ridden by Dane O’Neill.
“The way the race panned out really suited him,” said the jockey. “We were in the right place, behind the speed, and he just powered home.”
The first of four meetings in the Emirates this week takes place at Meydan on Thursday, where there is a seven race Carnival card – the fifth meeting of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Sheikh Hamdan runs Eqtiraan in the featured Group 2 Zabeel Mile. Ali Rashid Al Rayhi’s seven-year-old was a good third in the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes two weeks ago. Running back on turf will suit him better, but this looks a big jump in grade for the seven-year-old, who was a winner here over nine furlongs three starts ago.
The first race, the mile New Jaguar XF Handicap, is on dirt and Alkaamel lines up off from out of the handicap. Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s charge has run some excellent races in defeat here this season and probably gets his best conditions this time, although this looks a very strong race. However, stall one helps his forward-going style, so he has a good chance of collecting a second local win.
Waady has been ultra tough and consistent again this season and can add to his excellent UAE record in the Group 2 Meydan Sprint, race two, which he won last year, beating Equilateral who he faces again. This small field of seven should suit him and he looks the best chance of a winner on Thursday for the Shadwell team. Crowley rides him from stall six.
Nine run in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, race seven, including Al Mheiri’s Alkaraama who was an excellent second when defending his Jebel Ali Sprint crown a fortnight ago. The five-year-old is yet to win at Meydan, but has run some good races there – including when fourth in a Group 3 over course and distance – and shouldn’t be far away here.
There are six races at Jebel Ali on Friday, at which the feature is race four, a four-year-old conditions event named after the great jockey Pat Smullen.
Sheikh Hamdan supports the race with Alfareeq, who steps up in trip having found six furlongs too sharp at Meydan last time. Making his dirt debut here, he may still need more time to acclimatize to life in the UAE and has a tricky draw in 13.
The opening Derrinstown Stud Handicap is over seven furlongs and has a full field of 16. Nasraawy is a local debutant for Doug Watson, having moved from John Gosden in the UK. A $725,000 yearling, the Kitten’s Joy gelding is a winner at Salisbury and has plenty of potential, but did arrive to the Emirates quite late and may still need time to fully acclimatise. He will be ridden by Crowley, with O’Neill on board top weight Eshaasy, who has been well-held on both local starts and steps up in trip here, having found five furlongs at Meydan a little sharp last month.
The five furlong Al Shafar Investment Handicap, race two, looks interesting, and Mayaadeen takes his chance here for Watson. A good fifth here two weeks ago over six furlongs, this will be a first run over the minimum trip for this son of Invincible Spirit.
Mujeeb shares top weight the mile handicap, race five. Erwan Charpy’s gelding making a return to this trip after finishing down the field over seven furlong two weeks ago. Without a win since 2017 when he was trained in France, he is coming down the handicap but may still find this a bit tough. O’Neill rides with Crowley preferring Tafaakhor who is one of those who should get the trip. His last win came here, over nine furlongs, in November 2019, and he is now 7lbs lower.
The Group 1 President’s Cup is the feature at Abu Dhabi on Sunday and the AED2.5million contest has attracted a strong field, including Al Zahir, winner of this race in 2018 and 2019. An excellent second, after returning from a break, in the G1 Jewel Crown in December, he is rated the same as main rival Somoud, who won the prep for this race last time out. Al Zahir will break from post ten of 13 and has the assistance of Crowley.
The HH The President Cup for Thoroughbreds is over seven furlongs and Watson runs Mutamaasik. An eye-catching third, after setting the pace, in a strong handicap at Meydan on local debut, this looks the ideal spot for the five-year-old, although he has a disadvantageous draw in 14.
He also faces a strong line up, including Yaalail, who finished second to Taamol in this race last year. A natural front-runner, he will enjoy this better than the sprint trip he ran over last time out and has a good chance again, although he too has drawn wide in 12. Al Rayhi also runs Moqtaareb, who faded fast over nine furlongs at Meydan on Saturday. Competitive at Group level in the past, this drop in trip might help him as he ventures to the Capital for the first time.
The fourth Shadwell runner in the race is the Erwan Charpy-trained Mukalal, who returns after more than 14 months off the track. A winner on local debut here in November 2019, the seven-year-old followed that with a good third in Listed company at the same track and has the prime position here from stall one under O’Neill.