Shadwell UAE Season Preview - World Cup Night

Posted on: 27th Mar 2019

Jahbath: the three-year-old son of Mukhadram runs in the Group 2 UAE Derby on Saturday

The Dubai World Cup meeting – all US$35million of it – is upon us and Shadwell have a strong team for the big night, with six runners across the card.

Arguably the team’s best chance of a winner is with Muntazah, who will line up as the deserving favourite in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on dirt. Trained by Doug Watson, the Dubawi gelding was the emphatic winner of the G3 Burj Nahaar over course and distance last time out and his jockey Jim Crowley is excited about riding him again.

“He’s such a big powerful horse that I felt like I was only doing a nice canter,” he says of the Super Saturday victory. “He did it so easily, I don’t think he had a hard race at all, and to get the track record, it was very good.”

Muntazah, who has drawn well in stall six, aims to become HH Sheikh Hamdan’s third winner of the Godolphin Mile, following Soft Falling Rain in 2013 and Tamarkuz in 2015. His challenge is backed up by the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained Ibn Malik, the mount of Tadhg O’Shea, who will start from stall seven.

Now six years old, the son of Raven’s Pass has been in fine form this season, including a third in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, over six furlongs, in January. Seventh, beaten 14 lengths, behind Muntazah in the Burj Nahaar, he will attempt to improve on that effort here.

Saturday card here

Crowley rides the rapidly-improving Ekhtiyaar for Watson in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint, over six furlongs on turf. The Bated Breath gelding was an excellent second to Godolphin’s Group 1 winner Blue Point in the Group3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on Super Saturday and renews rivalry with him again, plus an international bunch of speedsters which include Australian Group 1 winners Brave Smash and Viddora. The Al Quoz will be his first start at the top level, but Crowley believes the five-year-old will hold his own.

“He’s improved with every run, and it was a great run behind Blue Point,” he says. “Gelding has made a big difference to him.

Sheikh Hamdan has just one overseas-based runner on the card; Jahbath lining up in the Group 2 UAE Derby, over nine furlongs on dirt, for William Haggas.

The chestnut cold has an impressive four wins from five starts on his CV, and warmed up for this with a clinical two-length win in the Kentucky Derby Trial Conditions Stakes at Kempton. Dirt is a different proposition, but Crowley is hopeful he will handle it, from a good draw in two.

“I went back to ride him at Kempton and he won nicely that day; he couldn’t have done any more,” says the jockey. “I think he’s got the gate speed you need for dirt, and, being by [Shadwell sire] Mukhadram, it would be nice if he could win for Sheikh Hamdan.”

The team’s World Cup night attack begins in the first race, the $1million Kahalya Classic for Purebred Arabians, over 10 furlongs on dirt.

Ali Rashid Al Rayhi runs Group 1 winners Al Zahir, partnered by Crowley, and Barnamaj, the mount of Sam Hitchcott. Third in the race last year, two spots ahead of Al Zahir, Barnamaj is having his second run back after a layoff, having been 10th in the Group 1 Emirates Championship last time out.

Multiple Group 1 winner Al Zahir was fourth in that race, but is yet to win on dirt. He is drawn one but looks up against it in a field which includes defending champion Tallaab Al Khalediah.

Laura King

Tags: dubaiworldcup; shadwell; mukhadram; jahbath; sheikhhamdan,