Dubai: The Listed Abu Dhabi Championship for three-year-old Arabians is the highlight of the final race meeting of 2020, to be staged at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday together with two competitive-looking thoroughbred contests on a seven-event card.
Run over a mile, the Abu Dhabi Championship has attracted a capacity field of 14 runners including a pair of hopefuls representing Omani trainer Ibrahim Al Hadhrami who won the race last year with Ihtesham and Szczepan Mazur.
The Polish jockey rides Asif, a colt who made a winning debut over 1600m on dirt in Muscat, but was well beaten on his only subsequent start, when seventh in a conditions race over the 1600m Abu Dhabi turf course and distance of Sunday’s race.
Representing the Al Asayl team of The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Eric Lemartinel is Mujeeb, who won a 1400m Abu Dhabi maiden on debut was a well beaten fifth, behind Ottoman, Shoja’A Muscat and Al Mansour NF.
The last-named remains a maiden after three starts and is trained by Helal Alalawi, who also saddles the only filly in the race, the debutante Lamhat Al Khalediah. The final race on the card and the last UAE race of 2020 is a thoroughbred contest over 1400m and again the maximum allowed 14 will face the starter.
Trainer Nicholas Bachalard is unbeaten in Abu Dhabi this season - having won with both previous runners including Boerhan who won the National Day Cup and its prep race.
Going by that yardstick Graffiti Master, the mount of apprentice Hugo Lebouc who picks up the ride with stable jockey, Ryan Curatolo, suspended, warrants some attention.
A five-year-old Dubawi gelding, he will be having just his second local outing having been well beaten in last year’s National Day Cup. Bachalard said: “He has been off a long time and is badly drawn, so I would be hopeful rather than confident in what looks a strong race.”
Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen team wup with Kinver Edge who has had seven starts, winning twice, including his seasonal debut on the Meydan dirt.
In-form handler Doug Watson saddles Alfolk, who has not been seen on the turf since his final outing for Mike de Kock in March 2019. A six-year-old Lonhro gelding, his four career victories have all been achieved on turf in South Africa, most notably in a 1000m Group 3 race at Turffontein almost exactly three years ago.
Watson said: “He has always trained like a nice horse and this is a good chance to get him back on turf. If he can run well here it gives us more options when Meydan race on turf, non-carnival obviously, next year.”
The American also saddles Rayig in the 1600m turf handicap, just a fourth start on grass for the four-year-old Exceed And Excel colt. His sole victory was over 1600m up the Jebel Ali hill last November while his best turf effort was a close third, in a big field, over 1400m at Meydan in April 2019, his final start for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Watson said: “He has been working well and, like Alfolk, this is a good opportunity to get back on turf with Meydan next year in mind.”