Jean de Roualle has lined up three runners, including the defending champion Loraa, in his bid to retain the Group 1 President’s Cup at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday.
His other two are Ziyadd, ridden by Dutch jockey Adrie de Vries, and Dahham, piloted by Frenchman Gerald Mosse, and the trainer believes all three can challenge for the Dh1.2 million prize.
Loraa has had only one run for the season, but De Roualle says she’s in “great shape”.
“We went easy with her on the Prep and she’s come out really, really well from that race,” said the Al Ain-based Frenchman.
Loraa won The President’s Cup last year on her third local start. She was unplaced in the €1.2m (Dh5.4m) Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Crown Jewel over 1,600 metres on her first run and third in the next, the Prep race, behind Mahbooba, who she faces again Sunday.
The chestnut mare by Mawood was tried over the dirt for the first time on the Dubai World Cup meeting last March but clearly didn’t like the surface and was unplaced.
This time Loraa returns to action after just one start. She was fifth in the Prep race behind Sniper De Monlau, Abu Alabyad, stable companion Ziyadd and Sauternes Al Maury, who are all lining up again in the race.
“The only worry is the draw,” De Roualle said. “It’s a long race but to come out of Gate 15 in a 16-runner field is not the ideal for her. Having said that, I think she still has strong claims.”
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Ziyadd caught the eye on his first local start when finishing third behind Sniper De Monlau and Abu Alabyad, who both run Sunday, in the Prep race three weeks ago.
Sniper De Monlau, winner of the Prep race, will be looking to replicate that run while Darius De Paon under Tadhg O’Shea spearheads trainer Eric Lemartinel’s quartet.
The Omani raider Chaddad comes into the race with a couple of good runs under his belt and Ali Rashid Al Raihe’s Al Zahir is another to be considered.
De Roualle has Munowra in the Listed Arabian Triple Crown Round 1 and Rmmas in the Group 3 Al Ruwais.
“Munowra won in Al Ain on sand and we’ll see how she handles the turf in Abu Dhabi,” De Roualle said.
“She has class and this would be her last for the season. She’s still a baby and we want more from her next season. Rmmas also won his last start in Al Ain but this definitely is tougher.”
Lemartinel’s RB Torch will be a tough nut to crack in the Al Ruwais over the sprint distance of 1,200m.
4.30pm: Handicap (rated 35-65); Dh80,000; 1,200m.
5pm: Handicap (67-92); Dh90,000; 1,600m.
5.30pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round 1 Listed; Dh230,000; 1,600m.
6pm: The President’s Cup Group 1; Dh1.2 million; 2,200m.
6.30pm: Al Ruwais Group 3; Dh300,000; 1,200m.
7pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (0-67); Dh80,000; 1,600m.
7.30pm: Handicap (55-75); Dh90,000; 1,600m.