All the main action is on the Tapeta at Meydan on Thursday with no less than three Group 3 features, including the 1,600m UAE 2000 Guineas in which South African trainer Mike De Kock is seeking a sixth win.
He has declared four for the first colts’ classic of the season with stable jockey Christophe Soumillon partnering Wednaan. Winner of his only start to date, a maiden at Yarmouth in the UK, Soumillon’s mount was forced to miss the trial a month ago, having contracted a cough on arrival.
De Kock said: “His preparation has been far from perfect but we think he is a really nice horse. His inexperience is a big worry though.” All De Kock’s five previous winners of this race went on to win on Dubai World Cup night, four in the UAE Derby and last year with Godolphin Mile winner, Soft Falling Rain.
Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor is one winner behind De Kock in this contest and he has both Emirates Flyer and Paximedia. Stable jockey Silvestre De Sousa deserts Emirates Flyer, on whom he won the trial, in favour of Paxi-media but Bin Suroor said: “Emirates Flyer won the trial nicely, loving the Tapeta and has been working well since.”
Fellow Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby also saddles two, Safety Check Long John, a new recruit from Australia.
Dual South African Horse Of The Year makes his local debut in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, over 1,600m, and will be a first UAE runner for trainer Joey Ramsden.
The 1,200m Al Shindagha Sprint is the third Tapeta feature with a maximum field of 14 declared.
These include the 2012 Group 1 Golden Shaheen winner, Krypton Factor. Ireland are particularly well represented, with four live hopes, possibly headed by the David Marnane-trained Jamesie, a course and distance handicap winner three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Al Ain Racecourse stage their second ever meeting on Friday afternoon with an over subscribed six-race card. The undoubted highlight is the concluding 1,800m conditions race in which Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel saddles multiple Group 1 wining veteran Fryvolous, but stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea chooses to partner stablemate Richlore.
Jockey Royston Ffrench rides AF Lafeh for his main employer Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
Bin Drai, Abu Dhabi, Ghantoot and Desert Palm 2 have qualified for the semi-finals of the McLaren Silver Cup.
Abu Dhabi defeated Habtoor by six goals to four in a very tough match.
The control of the game was divided in two chukkas for each team.
Until half-time, Habtoor Polo did well but from the third period until the end Abu Dhabi took control.
Meanwhile, over on Field 2, Bin Drai had to work hard to defeat Zedan. But a line-up of Mohammed Bin Drai, Tomas Iriarte, Manolo Fernandez Llorente and Raul Laplacette managed to control Zedan’s star Pelon Stirling finally in the last chukker to achieve a 9-6 victory and a ticket to the semi-finals.
In the last match held at the Dubai Polo Club, Ghantoot and Mahra played a tight game with Ghantoot eventually triumphing by seven goals to six.
The foursome of Abdullah bin Dismal, Juan Zubiaurre, Facundo Sola and Pelayo Berazadi had just enough to squeeze through to the last four.
Mahra had a last ball, with 15 seconds to the bell, to tie the match but the shot by Nacho Gonzalez was just wide. In Desert Palm Club, UAE and Desert Palm 2 played for the last place in the Silver Cup semi-finals.
Desert Palm 2, with Tarik Albwardy, Matías Machado, Santiago Laborde and Alejo Taranco played a great match to win the game by eight goals to four.
UAE had to set up a different team after Lucas Monteverde’s injury last Friday. Fran Elizalde replaced Monteverde and Oscar Colombres did the same with Tomas Gagliardi. For the Subsidiary Hildon Cup,
UAE will play against Habtoor and Zedan will face Mahra. Both matches will be held on Wednesday.
The Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club will be a busy venue this weekend with top riders competing in the President of the UAE Show Jumping Cup and the Federation Equestrian International (FEI) Furusiyya Nations Cup.
Show jumping is a sport that doesn’t get much recognition as it deserves but enjoys its place, both nationally and internationally, as one of the most popular and perhaps most recognisable equestrian events. It’s no surprise that the sport is included in the Olympic programme with many top competitions taking place around the world.
On Thursday, the Nations Cup is the FEI’s opening competition for the season and it is the only single Middle East qualifier for the final. The final will be held at the Real Club de Polo of Barcelona in Spain from October 9 to 12.
The opening event will feature a total of six nations who will contest in this first event including hosts UAE, who will be joined by Saudi Arabia, the country that took team bronze at the London 2012 Olympic and Gulf neighbours Qatar.
There will be plenty at stake for the Gulf nations, as only two qualifying spots are up for grabs in the final. Jordan, Syria and Ukraine will also be competing but will not be vying for the spots.
Alongside the FEI competition is the President of the UAE Show Jumping Cup, which began on Wednesday and runs every day until Saturday at the same venue.
The UAE Show Jumping Cup provides riders a chance to qualify for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France which takes place from August 23 to September 7.
It’s worth visiting the venue until Saturday to experience the action. After all, entry is free for all spectators and it will surely be a good day out.
Gates open from 11.00 with the event closing at 19:00 so you can spend the whole day with your family and friends. If you’re afraid of not understanding the rules of the sport, then don’t be.
Show jumping is spectator friendly and easy to understand. The object for the show jumper is to negotiate a series of obstacles, where emphasis is placed on height and width, and to do so without lowering the height (knocking down) or refusing to jump any of the obstacles.
The time taken to complete the course is also a factor. The three-day event is staged under the patronage of Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, advisor to HH The President of the UAE and Chairman of the Emirates Equestrian Federation.
Sheikh Sultan said: “As an international venue for equestrian sports, the UAE is well established. We have the experience and the expertise to stage world-class competitions. “This competition is a great opportunity for our Emirati riders to pit their skills against a world-class field.”
The competition includes the Longines Welcome Stakes, a CSI 2-star competition, the 2-star Abu Dhabi Sports Council Challenge, the CSI 5-star Longines Welcome Challenge, and the Emaar Speed, so there will be plenty of enthralling action to enjoy.
WHAT: President of the uae Show Jumping Cup and the FeI Furusiyya Nations Cup.
WHEN: Now until Saturday.
VENUE: Al Ain equestrian,Shooting and Golf Club.
Sport360 VERDICT: Being held in the beautiful Al Ain facility, spectators will be able watch the top riders free of charge.