Five must-see races during this weekend’s action in the UAE
The spotlight returns to Meydan on Thursday when the UAE’s flagship racetrack hosts a seven-race card featuring the first of many group races for thoroughbred Arabs in the form of the Bani Yas. The other six races on the map are dedicated to thoroughbreds and appear to be entertaining contests. The action moves to Al Ain Racecourse on Friday with another seven-race map stacked for thoroughbred Arabs. Gulf News selects five races that should take you to the edge of your sets, at home or on the racetrack.
1. Bani Yas (Group 2) sponsored by Dubai Police
Meydan Racecourse, 7 p.m., purebred Arabs. Distance 1,400m Stock exchange: Dh97,500
The first major model race on the rich Arabian purebred calendar, the Bani Yas traditionally attracts the best horses of the breed who will seek to make an early impression. A compact field of eight will take on the starter along with seasoned activists Rb Rich Lyke Me, former Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown Prep scorer. Rb Torch and the winner of the last outing Mh Rahal are one to watch. But the race is by no means lacking in depth with figures like Rb Kinsman, Cheik Roque and Af Al Sajanjle also deserving of attention.
GN selections: 1. Rb Rich Lyke Me. 2. Torch Rb
2. Issues of the conditions of the Dubai health authority
Meydan, 9 p.m., Thoroughbred. Distance: 1400m. Stock Exchange; 95 000 Dh
The star race at Meydan sees last season’s UAE Oaks star Mnasek making his seasonal debut for champion trainer Doug Watson in what seems a somewhat soft test for a horse with its abilities. However, these are still the early days of the season and a lot will depend on how it has formed over the winter months. Mnasek won the Oaks in a compelling fashion coming home more than six lengths ahead of his rivals in February, but hasn’t raced since. She will have the services of Watson’s stable jockey, Pat Dobbs. Others of note in the race are former UK-based Miami Joy who represents Emirati manager Ismail Mohammed, and his stable mate Faithful Soldier, who won his young daughter at Jebel Ali racetrack in March. Rashed Bouresly’s Hawa Bilady is another interesting contender who showed ability during his goal at Jebel Ali in March.
GN selections: 1, Mnasek. 2, the joy of Miami
3. Dubai Media Incorporated Disability
Meydan Racecourse, 10 p.m., Thoroughbred. Distance: 1200m. Exchange: Dh92,500
The race ended in style with a 1,200-meter sprint that has the potential to be a thriller. A field of 13 rosters in the opening contest with Doug Watson once again straddling a landing contender in Abibil, double scorer for Jebel Ali. The son of Elusive Quality has raced six times, all in the United Arab Emirates, but brings his Meydan back to Watson for the first time. Abibil faces a tough test from promising sprinters Wufud, Wasari and Quiet Encounter.
GN selections: 1. Abibil. 2, Wufud
4. Handicap of Al Markhaniya
Al Ain, Friday, 8 p.m., Purebred Arabs. Distance: 1400m. Stock Exchange; 85 000 Dh
The closing race at Al Ain on Friday night drew a field of 12 with Majed Al Jahouri’s Atrash looking to pick up where he left off last season with an orderly victory in Sharjah. A light-bred, UAE-bred son of French stallion Tidjari Des Forges, Atrash won two of his four career starts, but failed to do so by finishing the field in his only start at Al Ain in February of Last year. He is known to run well when cool and should continue the fine form of Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro who has already won six winners this season. However, this represents a big step forward for Atrash as they take on the higher-rated activists Avez De Pine and Octave.
GN selections: 1. Atrash. 2. Have de-Pin
5. Wathba Stallion Cup
Al Ain, Friday, 5 p.m., Purebred Arabs. Distance: 2000m. Grant: 70,000 Dh
The meeting opens with the ever-competitive Wathba Stallions Cup, which takes place under the aegis of the Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Flat Racing Festival, a middle distance competition that drew 11 starters. Ernst Oertel, the best Arab thoroughbred master, sends the winner of the last outing AF Mahzamy, with the seven-time champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea on board. Bred by champion breeder Khalid Al Nabooda, AF Al Buraq’s son is aiming for a third straight win and if he produces the kind of performance he delivered on his last visit to Al Ain in the Derby, he will be hard to beat.
GN selections: 1. AF Mahzamy. 2. Mujahedin