HH Sheikh Hamdan’s excellent season continued on Thursday when he unveiled a Carnival horse for 2021 in the form of Alkaamel, who romped to victory in the mile handicap at Meydan.
Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri and ridden by Antonio Fresu, the Havana Gold gelding scooted to a 13 and a half-length win, impressing his jockey, who said: “He was always travelling strongly and we had the ideal draw in stall one to be positive, which has really suited him. I had the race won turning for home and was able to ease down in the final 100 metres.”
Jebel Ali stages the only meeting in the Emirates this weekend, with eight races taking place up the hill.
Derrinstown Stud sponsors the third race on the card, a mile handicap, and Zainhom lines up here for Al Mheiri. A good second on turf at the Carnival last time, the chestnut reverts to dirt here and the course and distance he won over in November. Not the easiest to predict, he is well capable of another big run if things go his way.
With Jim Crowley in the UK, Zainhom is the pick of Dane O’Neill over Akwaan who makes his second local start and first at Jebel Ali, having struggled when last seen at Meydan on turf in February.
Ali Al Rayhi runs Almoreb, who returns quickly after finishing down the field in the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday. A good third on his last run over this course and distance, he on the shortlist here.
The AED300,000 Silver Jubilee Classic is one of the highlights of the season at the track and the Shadwell team both sponsor the race, and run five in it. O’Neill has chosen to ride Fanaar, who tries dirt for the first time after running well at the Carnival, including seventh when last seen in February.
He is drawn in 14, faring worse than Eqtiraan, who will break from five under Sandro Paiva. A Listed winner when trained in the UK, the Helmet gelding was a good fourth on his only Jebel Ali start so far.
Fanaar’s trainer Doug Watson also runs Motafaawit, who tests out both Jebel Ali and dirt for the first time. He too ran well at the Carnival, including when beaten just over three lengths into seventh in a mile handicap.
Al Mheiri runs an intriguing pair, including Tashweeq who romped to victory on turf at Meydan three starts ago, following that up with another good run at the Carnival. Well-held on his only dirt start at Meydan, he should find the surface at Jebel Ali more to his liking and he’s respected, being the pick of Antonio Fresu over Thammin.
The 2019 Jebel Ali Sprint winner, Thammin ran an excellent second in this year’s renewal, before finding things tough in the Grade 3 Meydan Sprint on turf. He should prefer things back here, but this first attempt at seven furlongs is a query for such a naturally fast horse.
Erwan Charpy is looking forward to running Cape Cross gelding Insaan, who lines up in the seven furlong maiden, race seven. Previously trained by Dermot Weld in Ireland, the four-year-old has adapted well to life in the UAE and faces 10 rivals for this initial dirt foray.
Newbury Racecourse sponsors the final race on the card, a five furlong handicap, in which Charpy saddles course specialist Farook. A winner here three times in 2017-18, the grey is now down to a mark of 70 and ran well at Al Ain last week, suggesting he is capable of finishing in the frame here.