ES Ajeeb, ridden by Sam Hitchcott, wins the 2019 Bani Yas race.
Gulf Today Report
A seven-race card meeting in Meydan is highlighted by the only purebred Arabian contest, the 1400m Group 2 Bani Yas, on Thursday.
A strong field of 15 horses will battle it out for the top honours at the Group 2 purebred contest. It also features Eric Lemartinel-trained RB Money To Burn The 5-year-old mare, owned by Sheikha Alyazia Bint Sultan Al Nahyan, has won five of her seven career appearances.
A thumping victory at the 1600m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1, in her only appearance at Meydan,in January remains the highlight of her career.
Fabrice Veron sprinted the mare to a big success at the Group 1 contest. Owing to her previous success at Meydan, she carries a the favourites tag for Group 2 race.
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Trainer Lemartinel said: “She is doing very well in her training. She has a penalty in a tough race, but should really have a nice chance." The mare only ran once more in the covid-19- curtailed last season, finishing second in the 1400m Group 2 Liwa Oasis on the Abu Dhabi turf. She chased home AF Alwajel who had finished a well beaten fifth behind her in the opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge.
Winner of half his eight races, AF Alwajel, homebred by Champion Owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, is the choice of retained jockey, champion Tadhg O’Shea, from two runners set to be saddled for Al Nabooda by Ernst Oertel. Another 5-year-old making just a second Meydan appearance, the entire horse posted his first three career victories on the dirt at Sharjah before the aforementioned big race success in the Liwa Oasis.
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AF Al Sajanjle gives owner and trainer a strong second string to his bow with Antonio Fresu taking the ride. The 7-year-old entire was third to RB Money To Burn in Al Maktoum Challenge R1, two places, but only inches ahead of AF Alwajel in a thrilling scrap for that third placing.
Oertel said: “Our horses are on the whole in good form and running well which is obviously a positive sign. These are two good horses and it is exciting to have two good shots at a big race.” Another trainer with two runners for a single owner is Doug Watson who will saddle both Sauternes Al Maury and Bon Baiser De Faust for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Retained by the owner, Dane O’Neill opts to ride the former with Sam Hitchcott aboard the stable companion.
Watson is also well represented in the main Thoroughbred race on the card, a 1600m rated conditions stakes, the gulfnews.com, in which he is set to saddle three of the eight runners. Thankfully back from injury, stable jockey Pat Dobbs opting to ride Fanaar, third on his seasonal reappearance at Jebel Ali three weeks ago. On his final start last season, he was fourth to stable companion Thegreatcollection, returning to action here and the mount of Pat Cosgrave. That was in March when Cosgrave’s mount, then ridden by Adrie de Vries, was winning for the first time since April 2019, also for De Vries, when winning a 1600m Meydan conditions race from Galvanize, Watson’s third runner and the mount of Sam Hitchcott.
Watson said: “It is good to have Pat back obviously and he picked Fanaar who has had a run whereas this looks a good spot to get the other pair going. All three are in good form and go there with some kind of chance in an open race.” Dane O’Neill had a trio of Sheikh Hamdan runners to choose from, shunning Fanaar in favour of Alkaamel, one of the first runners of the campaign for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.
Sheikh Hamdan’s third runner, Hakeem, is prepared by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and to be ridden by stable jockey Connor Beasley.
Another course and distance winner in the octet is George Villiers with Tadhg O’Shea due to perform the steering for Satish Seemar.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “He was a carnival winner for us last year, but that was over 2000m and this 1600m is perhaps on the short side for him now.
“However, he seems in good form, training well and it is a good chance to give him a race.” Salem bin Ghadayer has made a strong start to the campaign and relies on Daily Bulletin, a new horse to the yard whose one local victory was over 1400m at Jebel Ali. That was his local debut, when trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and he has only had four starts since. That includes his first start for Bin Ghadayer when fourth, over an inadequate 1200m, back at Jebel Ali three weeks ago.
Of Royston Ffrench’s mount, Bin Ghadayer said: “We ran him at Jebel Ali almost as a fact finding mission because he had not run for two years and we were pleased with him.“Thursday’s looks a hot race, but the horse has shown us plenty of ability at home, so will see how he goes.”
Stable jockey Pat Dobbs rides with Sam Hitchcott aboard stable companion Just A Penny, considered by many as a Jebel Ali specialist having registered all nine career wins ‘up the hill’.
Racing at Meydan on Saturday officially featured a 2000m turf handicap, the Al Tayer Motors and Recordman landed the spoils, providing trainer Satish Seemar a third consecutive victory on the card and a second for jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
Racing at Meydan on Saturday was highlighted by three quality handicaps, the official feature over 1600m on turf, in which turf debutant Mystery Land clearly relished the switch of surface, flying home under Pat Cosgrave to lead in the final 50m.
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