Age just a number to spry Jaasoos ahead of National Day Cup Prep race

Nine-year-old horse returns to site of several previous wins

Jaasoos, left, returns to the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, the site of four of his seven career victories, for the National Day Cup Prep race. Mike Young / The National
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ABU DHABI // Jaasoos seems to have lost none of his zest to race despite his advancing years.

The nine-year-old gelded son of Noverre, trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam at the Jebel Ali Stables, has won the National Day Cup twice, in 2009 and 2010, and was twice runner-up, in 2011 and 2012.

He returns to the capital’s racecourse where he has registered four of his seven career victories for his first start of the season in Sunday’s Prep race ahead of the National Day Cup on December 8.

Jaasoos will be up against Derbaas, last year’s winner of the Listed prize, and one of four entries for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid in the 12-runner field Conditions race run over the 1,600m distance.

Dane O’Neill, the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan, rides the seven-year-old son of Seeking The Gold, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe.

“Abu Dhabi really suits him and we have a great draw in one, though in this small a field that is perhaps less important,” O’Neill, who rode two winners last season, said of Derbaas. “The penalty [carrying an extra 4kgs having won last year’s Prep]makes the task more difficult, but he should not be far away.”

Marching Time, winner of this race in 2011, and War Monger, both trained by Doug Watson, and Musabah Al Muhairi’s Entifaadha are the others entries for Sheikh Hamdan.

The Purebred Arabian equivalent has drawn nine runners with Musharab, winner of the Group 1 Emirates Championship in March. heading a trio trained by Majed Al Jahouri that also includes Ghalib and Merzal for the owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.

Harry Bentley, who rode the six-year-old bay son of Njewman to victory eight months ago, retains the ride on Musharab. Eric Lemartinel has Raked as the fourth entry in the silks of Sheikh Mansour.

Wayne Smith rides Ghalib, third behind Kareem W’Rsan in the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship in Abu Dhabi last week.

Merzal finished third behind Skoop, the UAE Arabian Derby winner in the Arabian Triple Crown Round 3 last season in his only local start of the campaign. The Bibi De Carrere colt was a winner in France and has never been out of the top three in five career starts.

Lemartinel also saddles Bigg N Rich who was unplaced in the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship over the course and distance last week.

A strong contender for the prize tonight could be Watson’s Quite A Show, winner of the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah at Meydan Racecourse last season.

Also in the race, Shayel Aldhabi, a winner on four of her six UAE starts, represents the powerful combination of the UAE champion trainer, Ernst Oertel, and champion jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.