Kandar to face challenges from Albar Lotois and Nieshan

Kandar Du Falgas will have Richard Hills aboard when he defends his crown in a Group 2 event at Meydan over 1,600 metres.

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DUBAI // Kandar Du Falgas, the triumphant horse in the Mazrat Al Ruwayah last year, returns to Meydan on Friday afternoon to defend his crown in the Group 2 event, which will be competed over 1,600m.

Kandar, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and trained by Doug Watson, will be ridden by Richard Hills, the same jockey who rode him to victory three weeks ago in the precursory event for purebred Arabians, the Mazrat Al Ruwayah Prep.

"This is a better race [than last month's], certainly, but he is in great form and we know conditions suit him," Watson said of the nine-year-old French horse.

"It certainly will not be easy, but he is a very good horse on his day and should at least go close."

Watson said that Eric Lemartinel has the likely favourites in the form of Albar Lotois and Nieshan, the latter of which will be ridden by Gerald Avranche.

Avranche rode Albar Lotois at this year's National Day Cup, finishing just behind Nieshan, and he said there they are of nearly identical quality.

"There is very little between them. They should both run big races and go very close," he said.

"They have shown they handle [the track], so that is not a problem and we expect two big runs."

Fryvolous won the Mazrat crown at Nad Al Sheba in 2008 when trained by Rod Simpson.

Ernst Oertel, his latest handler, is hoping the eight-year-old can bounce back to something like his best.

Racing begins at 3pm with a 1,400m conditions race, which should provide early Classic and Dubai World Cup Carnival clues for 2012.

The Mazrat Al Ruwayah is scheduled to start at 3.35pm.