Dubai: Purebred Arabians are set to seize the spotlight at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday when a high-class group of 10 runners contest the Dh180,000 Group 2 Bani Yas, the season’s first Group race, presented by Longines Passion in Equestrian.
Run over 1400 metres on the dirt surface, the race has attracted 2016 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner, AF Mathmoon, a locally-bred Arabian, who won this race last year en route to capturing the prestigious Classic on Dubai World Cup.
AF Mathmoon is trained by Oasis Stables handler, Musabah Al Muhairi for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
With Shaikh Hamdan’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill currently on the suspended jockey’s roster, AF Mathmoon will be reunited with Al Muhairi’s stable jockey, Fernando Jara. “He is obviously a very nice horse and I am very much looking forward to getting back on him,” said Jara. “He seems in very good shape and, hopefully, is the one to beat.”
AF Mathmoon, who was bred by leading Purebred Arabain breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, will be looking to compensate for a defeat on his seasonal debut when he finished fifth in the world’s most valuable Purebred Arabian contest, Abu Dhabi’s €1.2m (Dh4.70 million) Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, two weeks ago.
Shateh, trained by Majed Al Jahouri, Rb Torch and Rb So Rich, look the main dangers. The meeting, presented by Longines, also feature six Thoroughbred contests.
UAE champion trainer, Doug Watson has won the last two renewals of the Longines Elegance Equestrian saddles in three of the 12 runners declared for the 2000m contest.
However, the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Trinity Force, who was a course and distance winner a fortnight ago, looks to have strong claims.
“He handled the step-up in trip on his seasonal debut two weeks ago and we are hopeful that he can get the trip,” said Al Raihe. “He’s in good form and a horse that we hope will run well this season.”
Watson saddles Jeeraan, also owned by Shaikh Hamdan, as is Nathr, twice a Meydan winner last season, over 1600m and 1900m. Second on his seasonal debut four weeks ago, in a 1600m handicap, he should also relish the extra two furlongs.
Watson’s other runners are Zain Eagle and Tried And True.