Action from the Abu Dhabi racecourse during the last meeting.
The traditional six-race meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday kicks off with the only Thoroughbred contest, a 2400m handicap. It is a typically wide-open contest for such an event in the capital, in which the weights are headed by Dubai World Cup Carnival alumnus Zamaam, to be saddled by Erwan Charpy and one of two among 12 declarations for the trainer owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
A 9-year-old Muhtathir entire, Zamaam has competed at each of the last four DWC Carnivals, highlighted by a 3200m turf handicap victory in February 2017 and a respectable fifth in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors one month later.
His other UAE success recorded over 2200m at Abu Dhabi just six days prior to that effort. That was in the biggest Thoroughbred race staged in the capital, the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship.
However, he has not been in competitive action since the end of February and will be ridden by Fabrice Veron, the owner’s retained jockey Dane O’Neill opting to ride stable companion Mudaarab, who bounced back to winning ways three weeks ago in a 2200m Abu Dhabi handicap for Charpy.
A 5-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor, he was ridden by Sheikh Hamdan’s first jockey, Jim Crowley, on what was his first ride of the UAE season and remains his only visit thus far during this campaign.
Charpy, whose horses have been in good form, said: “This looks a good opportunity to get Zamaam on the track and he retains plenty of his ability.
“It was nice to see Mudaarab get his head in front last time, as he had run well several times in defeat since joining us. The extra 200m should suit him.”
Rated 90, Zamaam has qualified for the 2020 Dubai World Cup Carnival with several of his rivals, including Mudaarab (88), seeking a big run to qualify for the international jamboree that commences Jan. 2.
On 89, Hold Sway represents Ahmad bin Harmash on what will be his sixth UAE outing, fourth for Bin Harmash and second this season having finished well beaten over 1900m at Meydan on the dirt three weeks ago. Connor Beasley rides and the return to turf should suit the 5-year-old gelded son of Dubawi, third in both grass outings in big-field handicaps at Meydan last season, over 2400m and 2000m.
Seasonal debutant Valcartier, a 5-year-old gelded son of Redoute’s Choice, will be having his fourth start for Fawzi Nass and was third in a pair of Meydan turf handicaps last season, in his case over 1600m and 1800m. He is part-owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) whose spokesman Justin Byrne said: “We are really looking forward to getting him back on the track, because we have always thought he was a Carnival horse.”
For the 3-year-olds, the Purebred Arabian action includes the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic and fillies’ equivalent, both over 1400m and carrying Prestige status. Ernst Oertel saddled the winner of both for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda in 2018. The fillies go first with AF Nashrah, the mount of Tadhg O’Shea, who was aboard their victorious AF Mouthirah last year. However, she beat just one of 15 rivals, over this course and distance, on her sole career start at the end of October.
Dhafra, winner of her only start, also over this track and trip in early November for Sheikha Alyazia Bint Sultan Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel, looks sure to go close under Fabrice Veron, who was also in the saddle when she won.
Also unbeaten after one start is Maria Al Reef, a 1200m maiden winner on the Sharjah dirt in early November when ridden by Szczepan Mazur for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami. She will be saddled on this occasion by Ridha ben Attia.
Antonio Fresu won the colts’ race for Oertel and Al Nabooda last year aboard AF Saab and they combine this time with AF Yeheeb, winner once from two starts, his second over 1000m on dirt at Sharjah having struggled over this Abu Dhabi 1400m on turf.
O’Shea appears to have chosen to ride the same connections’ AF Musannef, unplaced in two starts, but well ahead of his stable companion when they debuted in the same 1400m maiden here in the capital.
Again Sheikha Alyazia, Lemartinel and Veron appear to have a strong contender, this time Maqam, winner of his second start over 1200m at Sharjah, having previously chased home AF Yeheeb over 1000m at the same venue.
Brazil’s Jose Severo on Egyto LA won the Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Apprentice World Championship race in Sao Paulo last Saturday to book a place in the series final in Abu Dhabi in November.
Alyson Deniel from the United Kingdom rode Nordika to a classy win in the Romanian leg of the Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival’s Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship race
Four consecutive days of racing in the UAE will conclude at Abu Dhabi on Sunday with a six-race card highlighted by the HH The President Cup Prep, over the same 2200m as the Group 1 highlight itself and won last year by Jaser for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami.
Both Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians (MI) will look to bounce back from their defeat and return to winning ways in the Indian Premier League (IPL) when the two giants face off in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Serena Williams suffered another blow in her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title as the American withdrew from the French Open on Wednesday with an Achilles injury, while 12-time champion Rafael Nadal and women’s top seed Simona Halep eased into the third round.
Manchester City announced the signing of Portuguese international centre-back Ruben Dias on a six-year deal from Benfica on Tuesday in the hope of solving the defensive problems that have dogged Pep Guardiola’s side over the past year.