Sunday’s meeting at Abu Dhabi is the penultimate one of the current campaign in the capital with seven races scheduled and highlighted by a fascinating 2200m handicap, for which ten have been declared.
From his base at Al Asayl Stables, Eric Lemartinel will saddle two of them for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with Tadhg O’Shea opting to partner Mukaram, leaving Jesus Rosales to partner Molahen El Alhan.
Unraced before November, Mukaram was well beaten on debut before finishing a very promising fourth on his second start. He has run four times since, winning on each occasion and is seemingly still improving.
Twice a winner over 1600m, once at Al Ain and the other at Jebel Ali, he has since landed two 1800m handicaps at Al Ain and will be making his turf debut here.
O’Shea said: “He has done nothing but improve all season and hopefully he can run well on turf. He does not show an awful lot at home in the mornings but has been a revelation on the track.
The jockey added: “The handicapper has obviously reassessed him so he is on a career-high mark but his performances have continually improved to merit that. Remember, he has only had six starts. With luck he can translate his form to ‘the green stuff’ in which case he should be thereabouts.”
Helal Al Alawi continues to enjoy a fantastic season and saddles Hamares for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The mount of Richard Mullen, he won his most recent start, a 1600m conditions race at Al Ain when he led in the very last strides. He has yet to win on turf but was only beaten by a head in a 1600m Abu Dhabi handicap in December so clearly handles it.
Al Alawi said: “He has been in good form at home since winning three weeks ago and we are hoping he will run well again.”
However, on his most recent 2200m Abu Dhabi turf outing, in January, he was well beaten by AF Mahshoum who heads the weights here.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he has since been well beaten on the dirt at Meydan but that was in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, just last Thursday.
Jim Crowley, retained by the owner, rides and half of his four career victories have been recorded over this course and distance.
The main support race is a 1600m handicap, restricted to fillies and mares, in which Mullen and Al Alawi again combine, this time with Najres, a winner at Al Ain last Friday for Yas Horse Racing Management.
That was over 1000m and the filly, losing her maiden tag on her tenth start led close home having stayed on strongly throughout the second half of the race. This will be just her fourth local outing and second, in the UAE, on turf.
Al Alawi said: “We were very pleased with her win and this looks a good race for her. She stays the 1600m and acts on turf so, all being well, should have a good chance.”
Lemartinel saddles three for Sheikh Khalifa, of which O’Shea has elected to partner Bainoona, a 1400m Abu Dhabi winner on her most recent outing, three weeks ago.