THE LISTED ARABIAN TRIPLE CROWN ROUND ONE (1600m) will take the spotlight when the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club stage their first race meeting of 2016 tomorrow (Sunday) evening.
The night’s richest purse of AED 250,000 is on offer for the contest restricted to four-year-old Purebred Arabians and while a maximum field of 14 is set to face the starter recent form indicates few can be seriously fancied.
RV Moulins Monarch boasts strong claims after winning on his local debut two weeks ago, over the same course and distance, in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship.
The US-bred who had won in his homeland took his tally to two victories from three starts while presenting his trainer, Arken Stables-based Hassan Al Hammadi, with his first winner of the season.
Dubai World Cup winning jockey Fernando Jara, aboard for that victory, retains the partnership and while RV Moulins Monarch will carry a penalty for the Championship success and has to give weight to all of his rivals bar one, the combination should prove hard to beat again.
“He won well the last time,” said Jara. “He does get a penalty for that but I would expect him to run well again.”
The National Stables-trainer Helal Al Alawi saddled both second and third in the Abu Dhabi Championship Sniper De Monlau, was making his racecourse debut when a very promising second behind RV Moulins Monarch and, with that initial experience under his belt, and receiving weight this time, should be able to get closer.
Al Alawi has booked apprentice jockey Hector Crouch to retain the ride while the vastly experienced Royston Ffrench sticks with Badira De Monlau.
The trainer’s third representative Oraib made a winning debut when running out an easy winner of the Abu Dhabi Fillies’ Classic (1400m) on the same programme and may be the best of the fillies engaged.
“She impressed me,” said Buckell. “This is a stronger race but she should go well, even with a small penalty.”
An UAE-newcomer, Cheik Roque, is the highest rated runner in the race and could be a major player despite also having to deal with a penalty.
Now prepared in Dubai by Erwan Charpy the former UK-based galloper won on debut in July of last year and was subsequently placed in Group Two company.
Stable jockey David Probert takes the ride whilst Charpy has decided to add blinkers to the horse’s gear for this local debut.
With 14 Purebred Arabian winners so far this season Al Asayl-based trainer Eric Lemartinel is sitting comfortably atop that particular championship table, and unsurprisingly has a strong hand numerically with three runners.
Al Dheeb, to be ridden by Lemartinel’s French compatriot Gerald Avranche, won his only start, a maiden on dirt at Al Ain just over three weeks ago and must now make the switch to grass.
Cloe De Faust looked very useful winning her debut, also on Al Ain’s dirt surface before subsequently well beaten behind R V Moulins Monarch. It may be significant that Jockey’s Championship leader Tadgh O’Shea is giving the filly another chance.
The Al Khazna Handicap (1600m) is the only thoroughbred race on the card and looks to hold a host of chances.
All-breeds Trainer’s Championship leader, Red Stables’ Doug Watson, fresh from a winning double at Meydan’s New Year’s Day programme relies on Hacienda his only runner on the card.
The nine-year-old make a return to a grass surface after three dirt track races this season. He was just denied by the Charpy-trained Amaan at Jebel Ali at the opening meeting of the season in late October and has been out of a place in two runs at the same venue since.
Stable jockey Pat Dobbs takes the ride on the veteran whose lastest turf outing saw him score at the Jimna Lake course at Chengdu in China in April 2015.
Amaan, to be ridden by Paul Hanagan, is also engaged. The seven-year-old has not won on grass since February 2014.
Dubai’s Zabeel Stables-trainer Satish Seemar is responsible for five of the 14 runners with stable jockey Richard Mullen choosing to ride Double Dealer, a close third over 1400m here at his most recent start.