His Highness Sheikh Hamdan enjoyed a good weekend in the UAE, with winners at Meydan and Sharjah.
Zainhom provided the Shadwell operation with another Carnival winner, taking the Listed Meydan Challenge on Thursday night. Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri and ridden by Dane O’Neill, the seven-year-old was winning for the first time since November 2019, sweeping down the centre of the track and winning comfortably, by a length and a quarter.
On Saturday, Maqaadeer collected his first win in the Emirates, taking the Longines Spirit Collection Cup over 10 furlongs at Sharjah. Ridden by first retained jockey Jim Crowley, the Doug Watson trainee came home a length and a half in front of stablemate Cosmo Kramer.
Super Saturday is the feature meeting this week at Meydan; all seven races being preps for corresponding events on the Dubai World Cup card. The Shadwell team are especially strong in the sprinting division, sending out seven in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, the final race on the card.
The highest rated of them is Ekhtiyaar who was second in this race last year. Fourth and sixth on his two starts so far this season, Doug Watson has removed the gelding’s headgear for this run and he should have a good chance of finishing in the frame again, having worked nicely at Meydan last week under Crowley, who has chosen to ride him.
Motafaawit and Mutaraffa lock horns again, having finished first and second over fire furlongs here three weeks ago. Trained by Watson and Musabbeh Al Mheiri, respectively, they both have sound claims here, with Motafaawit being particularly exciting on just his third run of the season. He will be partnered by Pat Dobbs, with Antonio Fresu on Mutaraffa.
Al Mheiri also runs Taneen who was impressive here over course and distance last time out. A talented but fragile sort, this will be his first run in a Group race. He has drawn well in 12 and will be ridden by Dane O’Neill.
Watson has an able backup to Ekhtiyaar in Fanaar, the mount of Sam Hitchcott, who was fourth behind Motafaawit when returning up quickly last time. Ali Rashid Al Rayhi saddles dual Listed winner Taamol, back on turf after winning on dirt earlier this season, and Yaalail. The latter was last seen finishing ninth, beaten less than seven lengths, in the Listed President’s Cup at Abu Dhabi. Stable jockey Sandro Paiva rides Taamol, with Group 1-winning jockey Harry Bentley on Yaalail.
The Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal, race three, is the prep for the G1 Golden Shaheen and Enjazaat lines up here for Al Rayhi. Tenth in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort last time out, the son of Acclamation tries dirt for just the second time, having run well on it on local debut in December.
Among his opponents is Al Mheiri’s Alkaraama, who is very consistent and was fifth in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint last time out. He will be ridden by Crowley and has a nice draw in three.
Sheikh Hamdan runs Eqtiraan in the nine furlong Jebel Hatta, race six, one of two Group 1s on the card. The seven-year-old led last time out, before being beaten just a quarter of a length in the Group 2 Zabeel Mile and this step back up in trip will suit him. Stablemate Moqtarreb also lines up, fresh from a good second in the seven furlong President’s Cup at Abu Dhabi. He will be ridden by Paiva with O’Neill on Zainhom, who returns quickly after his heroics last week and who tries this trip for the first time.
Jebel Ali hosts its penultimate meeting of the season on Friday, with seven races taking place up the hill.
The seven furlong Al Shafar Investment Handicap, race two, gives Al Hadeer a good chance of breaking his maiden, the five-year-old having been placed here three times this season. Well-held over six furlongs last time, he is a free-going sort who looks well-capable of landing this on the best of his form.
The six furlong DREC Handicap, race three, sees Shajjy and Tashaaboh meet, with the former bringing the best recent form, having been third, beaten a length and a quarter, here last month. However, he is yet to win in the UAE and Tashaaboh may have stronger claims, although this is his first run at this track and first on dirt.
The best chance of a win for the famous blue and white silks might well be in race five, with Watson’s Nasraawy, who made a solid local debut when seventh here over seven furlongs two weeks ago. A $725,000 yearling, that run indicated that he handles this track and he should go close over this more suitable nine furlongs.
He is the pick of Crowley, with O’Neill on another local newcomer, Al Qaqaa, who has joined Watson from William Haggas. A $1.2million yearling purchase, he won one of six starts in the UK and runs for the first time since September, and first time on dirt. By War Front, he is bred to handle it and looks an exciting recruit to UAE racing.
The concluding mile handicap sees Bawaasil take his chance for Watson. The six-year-old ran well when fourth on turf at Meydan last time and is probably better on that surface, but did finish fourth and sixth on his only previous two starts at this track, so conditions shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Abu Dhabi hosts six races on Sunday evening, including a Thoroughbred handicap over a mile. Mujeeb goes here, returning two weeks after running down the field at Al Ain. Trained by Erwan Charpy, the seven-year-old will be better back on turf here, but the team have stronger claims with Fawaareq who returns to turf for the first time in a year and makes his second start at Abu Dhabi.