Dubai: The Shadwell Joel Stakes (G2) headlines a wonderful weekend’s racing, which begins at Newmarket on Thursday with the feature event holding promise of a fascinating renewal.
Open to horses aged three years or older, the mile contest has a rich history of great winners among them, UAE 2000 Guineas (G2) winner Soft Falling Rain (2013) and $6 million (Dh22 million) Dubai Duty Free-(G1) scorer Cityscape (2010).
Mustashry, who represents race sponsor and former Joel Stakes-winner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, is one of 15 potential runners.
An impressive winner of the Strensall Stakes (G3) at York last month, his handler Sir Michael Stoute will be hoping that the four-year-old son of Derrinstown Stud stallion Tamayuz will continue his upward curve as he chases a hat-trick of wins.
Shaikh Hamdan, who since 2008 has sponsored the race through his breeding arm, Shadwell, won the race back in 1993 with Gabr (1993) and followed it up four years later with Intikhab.
The ante-post favourite is Andrew Balding’s Beat The Bank, winner of the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last month and the clive Cox-trainer Zonderland, winner of the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury.
Another interesting contender is the South African star Whisky Baron winner of the Group 1 Sun Met at Kenilworth back in January.
The five-year-old, who is trained by accomplished handler Brett Crawford, endured a three-month quarantine period in Mauritius, before finally arriving in Newmarket in June.
Whisky Baron prepped for the Joel Stakes when working in the company of two William Haggas-trained companions over five furlongs on the Rowley Mile on Monday morning.
However, his regular rider Greg Cheyne felt that the ground, which is described as good to soft, did not suit his horse.
He told attheraces.com: “It was an interesting workout as we have always had a concern that Whisky Baron might not relish soft ground and, although I was not disappointed and feel quite positive about it, it did expose the fact that he doesn’t handle soft going particularly well.
“He travelled kindly for the first couple of furlongs but once the undulations started, he found it testing. He maintained his speed but couldn’t quicken.
“He felt as good as I can ever remember him - he’s in a good place at the moment and we couldn’t be happier with him, so our only concern for now is the ground,” added the Cape Town-based rider.
“I feel that he is ready for a race, but we need the weather gods to be on our side. He has been off the track since January and is bound to be a bit rusty, but this experience will do him the world of good.
“He is one of the best horses that I have ever ridden.”