Mashaaref and Journeyman appear to be on course for Dubai Carnival

t may have only been a domestic meeting at Meydan on Saturday afternoon but at least two of the winners will have Carnival aspirations, especially the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Mashaaref.

Mashaaref , centre in blue and white, with Paul Hanagan aboard, added to his credentials at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday afternoon. Antonie Robertson / The National
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DUBAI // It may have only been a domestic meeting at Meydan on Saturday afternoon but at least two of the winners will have Carnival aspirations, especially the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Mashaaref.

He was the impressive winner of a 1,200-metre turf handicap with Paul Hanagan riding for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and connections will be hoping he can sneak into a similar race at the Carnival.

“He has been a great horse over the years and is so versatile,” Hanagan said.

“He has won over 1,600m, as well as on dirt at Jebel Ali. He seems to handle all conditions and has enjoyed this straight track today.

“Obviously, it would be nice to be able to run in a big Carnival handicap but he needs to go up in the weights – but he should do after today.”

Hanagan was to complete a double for himself and the owner in the concluding 2,000m dirt handicap on the highly progressive Etijaah.

One of the easiest winners of the season at Al Ain on his previous outing, his rating is some way off a Carnival chance at the moment but, if he continues to improve, he could be a horse for the big races next year.

The handicapper will be scratching his head after another smooth success and it will be interesting to see where trainer Doug Watson sends him next.

He was not there to witness it but birthday boy Mike de Kock won the fifth race on the card, the featured 1,600m turf handicap, with Journeyman, a regular in the big three-year-old races at last year’s Carnival but not – before this win at least – qualified this year.

His rating will go up after winning here but probably not sufficiently to get him back into this year’s races.

Johnny Geroudis, who had finished second on the horse over 1,800m two weeks ago, was in the saddle again and produced Journeyman to lead in the very dying strides to deny Washaar, who looked the likely winner 200m from home.

“He has run some races at Meydan in the past, especially last time,” Geroudis said.

“It is never easy for these horses who arrive from South Africa, but he has spent the summer and acclimatised properly. We thought he would be hard to beat today and I was always travelling strongly. It was just a case of finding racing room at the top of the straight.

“Once we were clear he ran on very well, and I was pretty confident I was gong to get there from about 200m out.”

Richard Mullen and Satish Seemar combined for a double with Year Of Glory in the fourth race, a 1,400m dirt handicap, and Dubai Iconic, over 200m farther on the same surface in the second race on the day.

ABU DHABI EQUESTRIAN CLUB: FULL FIELD FOR PRESIDENT CLUB

With prize money of Dh3 million it is no surprise that Sunday’s HH The President Cup at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club has a full field of 16 with Al Asayl trainer Salem Al Ketbi responsible for four of them.

Al Ketbi saddled Abu Alabyad who won the trial two weeks ago, making all the running under Adrie De Vries and beating stable companion Skoop.

De Vries retains the mount on Abu Alabyad tonight and Skoop is again in opposition.

“It was a good performance winning the trial,” said De Vries ahead of the 2,200-metre Group 1 race for Purebred Arabians. “This is a stronger race but hopefully he will run well again.”

As he was in the trial, Skoop is the mount of Tadhg O’Shea.

The Al Ketbi quartet is completed by two mares, Nymphea Du Paon and Shayel Aldhabi, to be ridden by Shane Karlsson and Pat Dobbs, respectively.

Areem was in great form last season for trainer Majed Al Jahouri but has failed to live up to expectations this year.

He was second over 1,000m on his most recent start and is taking a big step up in trip.

He is reunited with Ahmad Ajtebi, who has ridden him to three Group 1 successes.

Harry Bentley rides stable companion Thakif, who beat Areem in the National Day Cup on his most recent outing in December when Shayel Aldhabi, Abu Alabyad and Nymphea Du Paon were also among the beaten runners.

Manan, to be ridden by Wayne Smith for Eric Lemartinel and the Erwan Charpy-trained Versac Py, the mount of Paul Hanagan, are other main contenders in what looks a fascinating clash.

RACECARD

5pm, Race 1 - Al Samha, handicap, 1,600 metres, turf, Dh80,000

5.30pm, Race 2 - Emirates Fillies Classic, prestige, 1,600m, turf, Dh110,000

6pm, Race 3 - Wathba Stud Farm Cup, handicap, 1,400m, turf, Dh70,000

6.30pm, Race 4 - HH The President Cup, listed, 1,400m, turf, Dh380,000

7pm, Race 5 - HH The President Cup, Group I, 2,200m, turf, Dh3,000,000

7.30pm, Race 6 - Habshan, handicap, 1,400m, turf, Dh80,000

- Agency

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