ABU DHABI // The thoroughbreds step into the limelight at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday evening with 11 runners declared for the 1,400m HH The President's Cup, the second Listed race of the UAE season.
It looks a good renewal but all eyes will be on Jaasoos as he bids to win the race for a second year running, having been third in the two previous stagings of the race.
Already the winner of two National Day Cups over 1,600m, as well as finishing second in that race this year and last, the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Jaasoos would become the only horse to have won both races twice.
Owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, he turns nine at the turn of the year but retains all his enthusiasm and ability, and will be ridden by James Doyle.
"He is not getting any younger obviously but showed last time he is in good heart," Selvaratnam said. "That was a good run behind Derbaas in the National Day Cup because he is a very good horse at this level.
"His stable companion First City looks a very big danger in this race but Jaasoos is in good form at home and should run his usual solid race with luck in running from the widest draw."
Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the UAE champion trainer, saddles First City, a Group 2 winner at Meydan Racecourse last season and will be penalised accordingly. This will be her first start of the season and the stable jockey Royston Ffrench takes the ride with Harry Bentley on stable companion Garbah and Dane O'Neill on the yard's third runner, Alazeyab.
Ffrench said: "She [First City] seems in good form and showed last season she can go well first time so that is not a concern and she should have the pace for 1,400m while she is fresh and well."
Bentley won on Garbah at Meydan on her previous outing.
"She was very impressive last time and seems to be improving," Bentley said. "That was over 1,200m but she has won over 1,400m and I am really looking forward to it."
Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen combine with Escape Route who was second to Jaasoos in this race last year, having filled the same berth in 2010 and Mullen said: "He has won over course and distance but it would be nice to win this Listed contest and maybe it can be a case of third time lucky.
"He is a real character and a big favourite in the yard who showed all his ability is still there when dead-heating at Jebel Ali first time this year.
"He will not be far away."
Paul Hanagan, the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, elects to ride Marching Time, over Alazeyab, who is trained by Doug Watson and is another who seems to save his best for Abu Dhabi.
"We actually have a good draw for a change and we will try and be positive with him to utilise that," Watson said.
5pm, Abu Dhabi Fillies Classic, Prestige, 1,600 metres, turf, Dh100,000
5.30pm, Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, Prestige, 1,600m, turf, Dh100,000
6pm, Abu Dhabi Championship, Listed, 1,600m, turf, Dh150,000
6.30pm, HH The President's Cup, Listed, 1,400m, turf, Dh185,000
7pm, Wathba Stud Farm Cup, Handicap, 1,200m, turf, Dh50,000
7.30pm, Al Reem Island, Maiden, 2,200m, turf, Dh35,000
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