Dubai: Meydan Racecourse stages its first significant stayers’ race of the season, a 2,800 metre handicap which is a precursor to the major long-distance races that will run during the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival.
A quality field of seven led by last year’s winner Averroes will line-up to face the starter as they bid to lay down their staying credentials.
Trained by South African Ernst Oertel at the Al Asayl Stables in Abu Dhabi, Averroes will have to concede weight to his rivals but nevertheless looks the one they will all have to beat.
A son of top sire Galileo, the six-year-old showed he can stay till the cows come home while running some big races last season, most notably when coming a close fourth to Godolphin’s long-distance champion Opinion Poll in the Group 3 Dubai Gold Cup on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan in March.
Since then he has had one start at the track where he finished a respectable fifth to Zain Shamaradal four weeks ago.
Champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea was in the saddle on that occasion and said of his chances: “He ran a good race on his comeback over a trip short of his best and these are his ideal conditions but the weight has to be an issue.
“He is conceding a lot of weight to some decent horses but on the positive side he worked very well the other day and the yard are bang in form.
“I won on Almiqdaad last year and he could be the main danger.”
Almiqdaad will be ridden by dual British champion jockey Paul Hangan who has made a promising start to his first UAE season as retained jockey to Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance.
A seven-year-old son of Haafhd, Almiqdaad looked a trifle rusty when having his first start in over a year at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club two weeks ago but his trainer Erwan Charpy remains confident.
“He is a big horse and needed that first run probably more than we thought. The step up in trip should suit him and he seems to handle the Tapeta well enough in his work.”
Mubarak Bin Shafya’s Royaaty was second to Averroes in this race last season and will resume his rivalry for jockey Xavier Ziani having recorded an impressive win on his seasonal debut at Abu Dhabi last month.
The jockey said: “The horse is a real favourite of mine and it was great to win on him again last time. He handles the all-weather well and is a strong stayer so I hope we can go close.”
Another interesting race on the card is a 1,200m handicap, which has attracted 11 runners including Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s Innocuous and Bahrain’s Forevertheoptimist who represents owner/trainer Fawzi Nass. Big-race jockey Kieren Fallon takes the ride.
Godolphin pilot Silvestre D’Souza is an interesting booking on Al Raihe’s Hadba in a 1,600m handicap who like the most competitive race of the evening.
Doug Watson’s Storm Belt and Mark To Market and Satish Seemar’s Dubai Iconic appear to have good chances as well.
O’Shea rides Mark To Market and said: “His running style is to settle off the speed so a wider draw is not an issue and the big field may actually work in his favour on this occasion.”