Areem is back to lead Emirati horse racing charge at UAE National Day Cup

Majed Al Jahouri has four runners in Group 1 race as Derbaas is favourite among thoroughbreds in Abu Dhabi, writes Amith Passela.

Jockey Ahmad Ajtebi, who was onboard for all five of Areem’s starts last season, will ride him on Sunday night in the season’s first Group 1 race. Satish Kumar / The National
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ABU DHABI // Majed Al Jahouri is hoping to retain the National Day Cup for Purebred Arabians with one of his four entries in the season’s first Group 1 prize on Sunday night in Abu Dhabi.

Areem, last year’s winner, spearheads the Emirati trainer’s quartet, which includes Group 1 winners Naseem (the President of the UAE Cup) and Musharab (Emirate Championship) alongside Rabbah De Carrere, the first progeny of the champion mare Mizzna.

Areem won his first three races last season, including two Group 1 prizes, before going down to stable companion Rakha in the Liwa Oasis in Abu Dhabi. He did not place in the Dubai Kahayla Classic on World Cup night at Meydan Racecourse.

“He’s trained well and returns for his title defence in good shape,” Al Jahouri said.

The five-year-old bay, the son of Mahabb, has four career victories in 11 starts, including two Group 1 prizes.

Areem will be ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi, Godolphin’s Emirati jockey, who was on board in all five of his starts last season, while Harry Bentley, who has won races on both Musharab and Naseem, will be aboard the latter.

“Last season, he did have the benefit of a run, which he does not this time,” Ajtebi said of Areem. “However, he won on his seasonal debut last year and goes well fresh. We would have liked a lower draw, probably, but we expect a big run.”

Naseem makes his first appearance for the season, while Musharab comes with a run under his belt, having finished second to Sahib Du Clos in the Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan Cup in Abu Dhabi’s opener on November 10.

Rabbah De Carrere, too, will have the benefit of a run as runner-up to the UAE champion trainer Ernst Oertel’s locally bred filly Sayel Aldhabi in the National Day Cup Prep three weeks ago.

The four-year-old bay colt will be one of the most popular choices of racegoers, being a grandson of the legendary Arabian mare Alanudd (Unchained Melody).

“They all are in the race on merit and hopefully one of them can go on and win the prize,” Al Jahouri said.

This year’s race will be hotly contested with Al Jahouri’s quartet challenged by Oertel’s trio of Shayel Aldhabi, TM Junior Johnson, and Fryvolous, as well as Saifaldin Deeb’s Sahib Du Clos, the 2011 winner of the prize.

Shayel Aldhabi is the choice of stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who said: “She is tough and honest. This is her toughest task to date, but she showed in the prep she deserves her chance – though this is a far-stronger field.”

Wayne Smith, who retains the ride on Sahib Du Clos, winner over the course and distance three weeks ago, expects another good effort from the seven-year-old son of Kerbella.

“The trainer and his team were very bullish before that race and the horse proved them right. He was a bit quiet last season but felt he was back to his best last time and we are very hopeful,” Smith said.

Quite A Show, Theoretically, and It’s Far From Over are the long shots.

In the thoroughbred equivalent, the Emirati trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s Derbaas will attempt to win over the course and distance for the fourth time.

The son of Seeking The Gold won both the National Day Cup Prep and the Listed prize last year, and he is on a similar path to repeat that feat, having won the prep race three weeks ago.

Dane O’Neill, who rode him 12 months ago, was aboard the seven year old when he won the prep race from War Monger by a short head.

“He battled and was gutsy last time when his class pulled him through,” O’Neill said. “With that run under his belt, hopefully he is the one they all have to beat. The draw in 12 is far from ideal, but he is the class act in the field so hopefully he can overcome that.”

O’Shea posts three wins at Sharjah before UAE National Day Cup

Tadgh O’Shea, the UAE champion jockey, warmed up for today’s attempt to win the National Day Cup for Purebred Arabians with a trio of victories in Sharjah on Saturday.

O’Shea, who rides Shayel Aldhabi in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, rode Warda Al Reef to victory for trainer Jaber Bittar in the second race of the night.

He then recorded back-to-back wins in race 4 and 5, on board Al Yawazi and Gali Rich, for champion trainer Ernst Oertel.

Wayne Smith, who will pilot Sahib Du Clos in the National Day Cup, took home the main race of the night, leading Zaffaan home in the Dh50,000 Abu Dhabi Handicap.

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