AF Alwajel winning the 2020 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup at Abu Dhabi under champion jockey Tadhg O'Shea.
AF Alwajel winning the 2020 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup at Abu Dhabi under champion jockey Tadhg O'Shea. Image Credit: ERA

Dubai: The Group 3 Al Ruwais for Purebred Arabians, a 1,200m sprint for Purebred Arabians is the highlight of an attractive seven-race card to be staged at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday.

AF Alwajel, winner of the National Day Cup last year and third in the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan last month, looks the one to beat.

Trained by Ernst Oertel for champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the six-year-old will be ridden by the in-form eight-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea. The pair will bid to go one place better than last year when they chased home RB Lam Taeira

AF Alwajel has contested most of the major races including the Group 2 Liwa Oasis where he beat RB Money To Burn. He was also third in November’s 1,400m Group 2 Bani Yas on the Meydan dirt.

The main threat appears to be Rawaa, who will be ridden by Antonio Fresu for trainer Majed Al Jahoori and Yas Racing. A six-year-old homebred mare, this will be just her sixth career outing.

Victorious on her first two starts, on dirt at Sharjah then Al Ain, last season, she made her turf debut when third in this race last year. Her latest outing was on dirt in Meydan’s 1,600m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 when fifth, less than three lengths behind AF Alwajel.

The drop back in trip should suit but she will need to show her sprinting ability have finished only sixth on the Abu Dhabi turf, in a 1600m conditions race in December. Winked beat Hakeemat Muscat on that occasion and both entires are again in opposition on Sunday.

The main supporting race is the 1,600m Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold which has attracted a small but tidy field of six.

Hameem, who is unbeaten after three starts looks the pick having most recently won the 1,400m Abu Dhabi Colts Classic. Adrie de Vries, in the saddle on both most recent starts, rides again with his mount tackling older horses for the first time.

“He is a nice, young horse and seemingly improving all the time,” De Vries said. “This is his toughest task yet, but he deserves his place in the field and should at least be competitive.”

De Vries’ mount is trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, as are Al Tiryaq, who landed this in 2018, but has not won since and the veteran Sharaf Al Reef. Now a 12-year-old, the latter was runner-up, on his penultimate start, in December’s Group 3 National Day Cup behind AF Alwajel.

The third interesting race on the card is the 2200m HH The President Cup Prep which has attracted a quality field, including Group One winner Somoud, Goshawke and BF Mughader.

The last named won the Emirates Championship over C & D in 2019, 12 months before Somoud landed the same prestigious prize.

The only Thoroughbred race is the 1400m Damess Stable maiden.

Le Factor, who was an excellent second in a Meydan maiden is the horse worth keeping an eye on.