Two previous winners of the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on Dubai World Cup night clash in the 1200m Listed Dubawi Stakes on the dirt and old adversaries, Reynaldothewizard and Krypton Factor are making their seasonal debuts.
Trained by Satish Seemar, 10-year-old Reynaldothewizard made a winning return in this same race last year before following up in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint. Sadly he missed the rest of the season so this will be his first outing since February.
He will again be ridden by Richard Mullen, who said: “Obviously he has been off a fair while and is certainly approaching the veteran stage. He seems in great form at home and has been bucking and kicking but it is hard to gauge his work because he never shows much in the mornings.
“He is the old boy at the party so to speak and it will be interesting to see how he fares against the likes of Muarrab.”
Muarrab was actually second in this last year, suffering his only defeat in his nine most recent outings. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan and trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, Muarrab won last year’s Listed Jebel Ali Sprint and his two wins this year include the Listed Garhoud Sprint, over Thursday’s course and distance.
Paul Hanagan rides, and said: “He has just gone from strength to strength and hopefully will go very close.”
The aforementioned Krypton Factor, winner of the 2012 Golden Shaheen, chased home Reynaldothewizard in last year’s Al Shindagha Sprint. He represents Bahrain and is owned and trained by Fawzi Nass. The late defection of Godolphin’s Carry On Deryck takes a bit of gloss from the field in the Listed Singspiel Stakes, on the turf over 1800m, but it looks an open race nonetheless.
Dhruba Selvaratnam saddles the talented and versatile Farraaj, having his third start for the yard. He looked badly in need of his comeback, a comment that also applies to Doug Watson’s representative Limario.
However, they may struggle to deny Mike de Kock a third win in a race only introduced in 2012. He relies on Mujaarib, the mount of Hanagan. As you would expect, Godolphin look to hold strong hands in both the Classic trials.
In the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, won last year by subsequent UAE Derby victor Mubtaahij, Saeed bin Suroor saddles Steady Pace, while fellow Godolphin handler, Charlie Appleby, relies on Rouleau.
The pair actually clashed in last year’s Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket when Bin Suroor’s charge was third, two places in front of Rouleau who actually has to give him weight on this occasion.
Meanwhile, Bin Suroor won the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial with Local Time last year and she went on to win both the Guineas and UAE Oaks. The trainer saddles both Promising Run and Pure Diamond with stable jockey, James Doyle, on the former. However, the De Kock-trained Almashooqa and Polar River, to be saddled by Watson, look live threats.
The win marked the second consecutive victory in the HH Endurance Cup for the Crown Prince, who became one of four riders to win the event twice. Abdulla Ghanim Al Marri, winner in 2012 & 2013, was denied his attempt to become the first rider to win the competition three times.
HH Sheikh Hamdan, riding for MRM Stables, was never far back in the competition. He completed the four earlier loops of the five stages with placements of fifth, third, first and second before overtaking Al Marri in the final loop to gain the win. His total ride time for the win aboard the 15-year-old chestnut mare, Ajayeb, was 6:32:50.
MRM Stables secured three of the top four placements with finishes of first, third and fourth.
Held at the purpose built Dubai International Endurance City, and organised by the Dubai Equestrian Club, a member of the Meydan Group, the international event attracted one of the largest and most competitive fields in the history of the ride.
A total of 227 riders, representing an impressive 41 countries, began the ride at 7am. The 160km competition consisted of five in distances of 40, 35, 35, 32 and 18 kilometers.
Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, General Manager of the Dubai Equestrian Club said: “I would like to express my greatest appreciation on behalf of the Dubai Equestrian Club to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his generous support of endurance riding and this event. We also thank Saeed Al Tayer, Chairman of Meydan Group for his commitment to Dubai Equestrian Club.
“Each year the DEC works to improve and further grow this event. Our focus is not only on the sport here in the UAE but development around the world. More than 40 countries were represented this year and this is proof of Dubai’s commitment to endurance riding as an international sport.”
Other top competitors finishing in the top 15 were: Saeed Mohammed Khalifa Al Mehairi in third, Sheikh Hamed Dalmook Al Maktoum in sixth, Sheik Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, the winner in 2014 was seventh; and Sheikh Mohamed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa of Bahrain was 11th.
Past winners of the ride include: Omar Mubarak Al Baluchi, 2008 & 2011; Ali Khalfan Al Jahouri, 2009 & 2010; Abdullah Al Marri 2012 & 2013; Sheikh Rashid Bin Dalmouk Al Maktoum, 2014; and HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai in 2015.
As part of the event, the environmental campaign, My Arena My Environment, was launched in a team effort by the Dubai Muncipality and the Meydan Group. The campaign is a concentrated effort to clean and maintain the desert as a pristine environment.
The racing action switches to Jebel Ali on Friday with an interesting six-race card highlighted by the Jebel Ali Mile Prep, over the same 1600m as the Jebel Ali Mile itself.
Trained on the course by Dhruba Selvaratnam, Forjatt has finished ‘first past the post’ in that Group Three feature in each of the last two years – though he was subsequently disqualified last year after testing positive for a prohibited substance.
He heads the weights in the race and arrives in impeccable form having won both the National Day Cup and the prep for the same Abu Dhabi feature.
Selvaratnam said: “He is fit, well and in great form. The penalty obviously makes life harder for him but he should run a big race.”
Among the opposition is Busatto, trained by Doug Watson and winner of both his course starts after a disappointing local debut on the turf at Abu Dhabi.
Watson said: “He has clearly taken well to the dirt at Jebel Ali and this, basically, is the next step on his, hopefully, progressive ladder.”
Sefri was a good winner here at Jebel Ali three weeks ago, for Sheikh Hamdan and trainer Erwan Charpy. He looks the best of the rest.
The main support race is a 1200m conditions contest which could well develop into a match between the Selvaratnam-trained Sholaan and Sheikh Hamdan’s Mushaakis.
The latter, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, has already won three times at Jebel Ali this season but faces a far stiffer task against quality opposition.
Sholaan looks the most likely winner, although it should be highlighted that the field also includes course specialists Kanaf, Al Razi and Art Wave.