Dubai: Gulf News, a long-serving partner of the Dubai Racing Club (DRC), returns in its familiar role as sponsors of a full Racing at Meydan domestic card on Thursday (November 19).
One of the region’s premier media houses, Gulf News has been associated with UAE flat-racing, both as a sponsor of the iconic Gulf News Dubai Golden Shaheen (Group 1) sprint on Dubai World Cup day and as committed media partner, since 1994.
Each of the seven races on Thursday’s card will carry the name of products associated with the paper, led by the portal gulfnews.com, Friday, Wheels, Watch Time, REACH, getthat.com and agnc3.
The meeting is highlighted by the Group 2 Bani Yas Sponsored by Gulf News, a 1400 metre contest for Purebred Arabians, which is the first Pattern race of the season to be run at Meydan.
As has been the norm with most Arabian races run in the UAE in recent years, a strong field of 15 horses led by the exciting RB Money To Burn, will face the start in a bid to announce themselves as a leading contender for the prestigious prizes on offer in the ensuing months.
Trained by Eric Lemartinel for Sheikha Alyazia Bint Sultan Al Nahyan, the five-year-old mare has won five of her seven career appearances - including Round One of the Al Maktoum Challenge on her first visit to Meydan in January.
Although she carries a penalty for that Group 1 success, it’s hard to look beyond her and the trainer-jockey pairing of Eric Lemartinel and Fabrice Veron. Assessing Rb Money to Burn’s chances, Lemartinel told the Dubai Racing Club: “She is doing very well in her training. She has a penalty in a tough race, but should really have a nice chance.
The main threat appears to be AF Alwajel, who defeated her in the Group 2 1400 metre Liwa Oasis on grass at Abu Dhabi, however, she had her well-beaten on sand in the Al Maktoum Challenge.
AF Alwajel is the choice of his retained jockey and multiple time UAE champion Tadhg O’Shea. She is prepared by Ernst Oertel. a master of Purebred Arabians, who also saddles AF Al Sajanjle, a winner of the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah at Meydan in 2019. Antonio Fresu takes the ride.
The seven-year-old AF Al Sajanjle has notable form, having finished third to RB Money To Burn in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1, albeit by four and quarter lengths.
Oertel, who also trains AF al Sanjanjle, commented: “Our horses are on the whole in good form and running well - which is obviously a positive sign. These are two good horses and it is exciting to have two good shots at a big race.”
Red hot handler Doug Watson is also double-handed in the race with Sauternes Al Maury and Bon Baiser De Faust - both owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.
Sheikh Hamdan’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, rides the former with Sam Hitchcott aboard the stable companion.
Watson’s runners are absolutely flying and the former champion handler appears to have a leading chance in the featured gulfnews.com handicap with Fanaar, who will be partnered by Pat Dobbs, who returns to the saddle after a short lay-off due to injury. Fanaar was third on his seasonal reappearance at Jebel Ali three weeks ago.
Watson also saddles Thegreatcollection, the mount of Pat Cosgrave and Galvanize, who will be partnered by Sam Hitchcott. “It is good to have Pat back obviously and he picked Fanaar who has had a run whereas this looks a good spot to get the other pair going.’’ said Watson.
“All three are in good form and go there with some kind of chance in an open race.”
The international market leader is Sheikh Hamdan’s Alkaamel, one of the first runners of the campaign for Emirati handler Musabbeh Al Mheiri. He will be ridden by Dane O’Neill.
Sheikh Hamdan is also represented by Hakeem, who races out of the stables of Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and is the mount of stable jockey Connor Beasley.
Satish Seemar sends out course and distance winner George Villiers. Seemar’s assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “He was a carnival winner for us last year, but that was over 2000m and this 1600m is perhaps on the short side for him now.
“However, he seems in good form, training well and it is a good chance to give him a race.”
Salem Bin Ghadayer, another trainer who looks to have his yard in fine order as evident from the six winners he has had so far, relies on stable newcomer Daily Bulletin, a winner over 1400m at Jebel Ali.
Bin Ghadayer said: “We ran him at Jebel Ali almost as a fact-finding mission because he had not run for two years and we were pleased with him. Thursday’s looks a hot race, but the horse has shown us plenty of ability at home, so will see how he goes.”
Gulf News Selections
Race 1: 1 Rb Money To Burn; 2. Af Alwajel.
Race 2: 1. Nayefah; 2. Super Chianti.
Race 3: 1. Far Sky; 2. Zabardast.
Race 4: 1. Royal Sands 2. Rich And Famous.
Race 5: 1. Alkaamel; 2. Fanaar.
Race 6: 1. Kinver Edge; 2. Lavaspin.
Race 7: 1. Lady Snazz; 2. Meqdam.
Day’s Best: Rb Money To Burn