The Meydan Racecourse Image Credit: GN Archives

Dubai: The Al Maktoum Challenge, one of UAE racing’s most prestigious race series, boasts some great memories and Thursday’s renewal of the opening leg for Purebred Arabians is sure to add another exciting chapter to its history.

As has been the trend with Arabian races the 1600 metre dirt contest presented by Longines, has attracted a sparkling field of 15 runners led by last year’s winner RB Money To Burn and the ultra-consistent Jayide Al Boraq.

Trained by Frenchman Eric Lemartinel for Sheikha Alyazia Bint Sultan Al Nahyan, the six-year-old mare will be looking to turnaround three-race losing streak despite drawing on the outside in Gate 14.

However her jockey Fabrice Veron believes her running style will help her overcome any potential obstacles.

The French rider told the ERA: “She is a mare we know likes the conditions, seems in good form at home and we hope is going there with a big chance in a good renewal.

“Obviously, we would have preferred to be drawn lower, but she normally breaks well and has plenty of speed, so hopefully we can overcome that.”

Jayide Al Boraq, stable star for Emirati handler Khalifa Al Neyadi looks a formidable rival having won his eight dirt starts between seven and eight furlongs with his only loss coming over 1800 metres at Al Ain.

Bernardo Pinheiro, who has ridden the seven-year-old son of Burning Sand in six of his eight starts said: “He is a great horse and a pleasure to be associated with. He has done nothing wrong, especially on dirt, so we are really looking forward to it, but it is obviously a strong race.”

Trained by Ernst Oertel for his main patron and champion breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, AF Alwajel, is another horse with strong claims.

He looks the form horse in the race having landed the Group 3 National Day Cup on his latest outing over 1600m, but this was on the grass.

Al Nabooda’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea takes the rider with seasoned French rider Gerald Avranche partnering the stable companion AF Al Sajanjle.

Al Ain for conditioner Ahmed Al Mehairbi relies on Dagui Lotois who will be ridden by Antonio Fresu who said that he believes that he has a ‘good chance with Dagui Lotis in the race.

The Racing at Meydan fixture, the first UAE race meeting of 2021, also features the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies.

Run over 1400m, Trial see the might Godolphin stable out in force with lead trainers Saeed Bin Surour and Charlie Appleby sending out five of the 11 runners, with the former accounting for four of them.

Appleby’s lone representative is Lookingtotherainbow, one of two rides on the card for Godolphin’s retained rider William Buick, who enjoyed a wonderful 2020 racing season in Britain where he finished runner-up to Oisin Murphy in the jockey’s championship.

A homebred daughter of Godolphin’s prolific stallion Dubawi, Lookingtotherainbow won her maiden at the third attempt, when successful in a 1400m juvenile fillies’ novice stakes on the Kempton all-weather in October.

Assessing her chances Appleby said: “She has settled in really well and been enjoying the Dubai weather. Her work has been good, and she is by Dubawi whose progeny normally go well on the Meydan surface, so hopefully she has a good chance.”

Saeed Bin Surour has a history of successes on his home turf at Meydan and typically sends out a quartet of hopefuls with Soft Whisper, winner of two of her four starts in the UK.

Bin Surour’s other runners are Final Thought, Late Morning and Last Sunset.

The Meydan turf is also in use for the first time this season with two competitive handicaps over 1000m and 1800m and 1000m.

Meanwhile the Dubai Racing Club announced the return of the highly popular Pick-Six competition which will be conducted online.

Racing fans are required to select the winner of the designated races at the Race Meeting with the players who correctly pick the most winners being entered into a draw where he stands to win a cash prize.

The competition is open to all members of the public — with a valid UAE mobile number. Selections can be made up to 15 minutes before the start of the first designated race of the Pick Six.

GN Race Selections

Race 1: Jayide Al Boraq; 2. Rb Money To Burn.
Race 2: 1. Rio Angie; 2. Lavaspin.
Race 3: 1. Gabr; 2. Boerhan.
Race 4: 1. Soft Whisper; 2. Super Chianti.
Race 5: 1. Alkaamel, 2. Golden Goal.
Race 6: 1. Dahawil 2. Raakezz.
Day’s Best Jayide Al Boraq