Abu Dhabi’s 12th meeting of the season on Sunday will cap a busy racing weekend that also includes the inaugural Saudi Cup.
The Group 2 Liwa Oasis and the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown Round-2 are the highlights of the six-race card.
The Liwa Oasis has drawn a field of 13, including the 2016 and subsequent Kahayla Classic winner AF Mathmoon.
Now nine, Musabah Al Muhairi’s entry has not been seen in public since well beaten when attempting to defend his Kahayla Classic crown in 2017, so is returning after 1,072 days away from the track.
Returning from a long lay-off, AF Mathmoon will need to be near his best to make an impact. Eric Lemartinel is double handed with RB Torch and RB Money To Burn, winner of the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round-1 over the 1,600m distance on the Meydan dirt surface.
“RB Torch is a nice horse who likes it at Abu Dhabi and should run well, but RB Money To Burn is exciting,” Lemartinel said of his two entries.
“She won the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge nicely and will go for the Kahayla Classic after this.”
AF Mathmoon was originally raced by his breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Naboodah, whose black and silver silks will be carried by AF Alwajel, a three-time winner in seven career outings.
“He is a nice horse and one we have always really liked,” Ernst Oertel, his handler, said of the five-year-old son of AF Al Buraq.
“He had a poor draw last time and unfortunately does again, but is in good form and we are hoping for a big run,” the South African said of his gate 11 draw over the 1,400-metre trip.
Wadeeaa is another Group 1 winner in the field, but has not won again since that big race victory in last year’s Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 in January 2019.
She ran an encouraging third behind Omani raider Rasi and RB Lam Tara in his most recent start in the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah at Meydan on February 13.
The Arabian Triple Crown has also drawn 13 in which Tadhg O’Shea rides RB Seqondtonone.
Saifaldin Deeb’s Baseq Al Khalediah colt was runner up in both his local starts, in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship and Listed Arabian Triple Crown Round 1, and he appears to hold strong claims to register a first UAE victory.
If he can, he will add to the one he managed in the USA, over 1200m on dirt on what was his second and final start in his homeland.