Dubai: The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is set to stage its most important race meeting of the season showcased by the HH The President’s Cup for thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians.
The feature races represent one of the major highlights of the UAE racing calendar as they attracts some of the best horses currently based in the country.
A quality field of 11 horses, headed by course and distance winner Nawwaar, goes to contest the Dh185,000 1400m HH The President’s Cup, a Listed event for thoroughbreds.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the Shadwell Farm-bred son of Distorted Humor, is a proven performer at the track having also landed the Listed National Day Cup in December as well.
He is the selection of two-time British champion jockey Paul Hanagan, who is retained by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
Al Raihe also saddles Derbaas, winner of the National Day Cup in 2012, who will be ridden by his stable jockey Royston Ffrench.
An interesting contender is the South African trained globe-trotter Kavanagh who makes his Abu Dhabi bow following a campaign centre around Meydan, where he also finished a highly creditable sixth to Reynaldothewizard in last year’s Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.
Giving details of the decision to contest the HH The President’s Cup trainer Mike de Kock said: “This looks a good opportunity for Kavanagh over what is perhaps his best trip. He has been running well enough at Meydan, is working nicely and we expect him to go close.”
A field of 15, among them the last two winners of the race, contest the Purebred Arabian version, a Group 1 event run over a distance of 2220m.
Harry Bentley rode Naseem to win this race 12 months ago and is back to defend his title.
“It was a good win in this last year,” said Bentley. “He needed his first run this season in the National Day Cup then showed his versatility by winning the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the Meydan all-weather.
“That was over 1600m, beating Rabbah De Carrere, but Sunday’s 2200m is probably his optimum trip. We have to be very hopeful.”
Naseem is one of four runners in the race trained by Majed Al Jahouri, including Rabbah De Carrere, winner of round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan.
He will be partnered by Royston Ffrench with Godolphin’s Silvestre De Sousa aboard stable companion Raaziq who won he course and distance trial three weeks ago.
Al Jahouri’s fourth runner is Musharab, the mount of Pat Cosgrave, who was fourth in this last year and also won the Emirates Championship last March.
Nieshan, second to Naseem last year and winner of the race in 2012, looks to have a leading chance.
Frenchman Gerald Avranche who takes the ride for trainee Eric Lemartinel said: “He has only had one start this season, over an inadequate 1600m and this 2200m really suits him. He should go close.”