UAE Derby Sponsored By Emirates NBD (Group 2)
Dubai: The $750,000 UAE Derby Sponsored By Emirates NBD, which carries points toward the Group 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1, has attracted a quality international field of 14 runners led by Japan’s Saudi Derby hero Pink Kamehameha and the Godolphin hope Soft Whisper.
However, the Hideyuki Mori trainee, who is one of three challengers from Japan, will have to contend with the widest stall of 14. Additionally he once again finds himself up against two horses who pushed hard in the Saudi showpiece, John Gosden’s New Treasure and Godolphin’s impressive Meydan winner Rebel’s Romance, who represents Charlie Appleby.
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Godolphin handler Saeed Bin Surour has won the race no less than eight times and bids to continue his domination with Soft Whisper, who he described as one of the best fillies he has ever trained.
The international odds tell a different story with the undefeated and big-market leader Panadol posing a headache for his rivals.
Winner of the Listed Al Bastakiya from the Doug Watson-trained Speight’spercomete and stable companion El Patriota on Super Saturday, Panadol is also well-drawn in stall six.
Although he might find this race a much tougher task, he still gets the vote to give Emirati handler Salem Bin Ghadayer his first success in the race which was first run at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in 2000.
Watson, who is also looking for a maiden victory in the race, is also represented by the impressive Group 3 UAE Oaks heroine Mnasek, who was previously runner-up to Godolphin’s Soft Whisper in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas after a less than satisfactory start.
Trainer Brendan Walsh won the UAE Derby in 2019 with Plus Que Parfait and America will be looking to pick up a second successive trophy with Doug O’Neill’s Ambivalent.
Another horse that has a huge chance is Japan’s France Go De Ina, who represents Saudi Derby-winning handler Hideyuki Mori, who also backs up Pink Kamehameha in a bid to complete a Gulf Classic double.
The local challenge comes from Jebel Ali Stable handler Nicholas Bachalard’s UAE 2000 Guineas scorer Mouheeb, who showed plenty of battling qualities in the colt’s Classic to score by a neck from Meshakel, who is an absentee in this race.
2. Soft Whisper
3. Pink Kamehameha