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Friday, December 30, 2011


Meydan sees out year with action aplenty


Al Basti Equiworld sponsor Saturday's Meydan card, the final race meeting of 2011 here in the UAE, with two quality Thoroughbred handicaps sharing the limelight.

Of these, the penultimate UAE race of 2011 is a 1400m handicap, the Al Basti Equiworld - Hartog Cup, and has attracted a competitive field of 12 and Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe is well represented with three of the runners.


Stable jockey Royston Ffrench partners Ana Emirati who was a good second on his last start at Jebel Ali, while Expire who was runner-up over 1200m on his second-to-last start but disappointed last week, will be ridden by stable apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei.

However, it could be that Aamaaq, owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the mount of his retained jockey Richard Hills, is Al Raihe's best hope.

Hills said: "He will have come on for his comeback run at Jebel Ali and was in great form early on last season. He should run well."

Trainer Abdulla bin Huzaim saddles two runners with Step In Line, who tends to race prominently, making his All-Weather debut under Ahmad Ajtebi, and Carlos Sandoval retaining the partnership with stable companion Fervent Prince on whom he won easily here over 1600m just over three weeks ago.

Mubarak bin Shafya is another trainer with two runners. Stable jockey Pat Cosgrave partners Izaaj, who has been running well in recent weeks but was well beaten by Fervent Prince on his penultimate start, and Xavier Ziani rides stablemate Felday.

Earlier on the card, the Al Basti Equiworld - Foran Cup is the longest race of the UAE season to date and eight have been declared for this 2800m handicap, including Achill Bay who won the equivalent race last season.

Prepared by Satish Seemar, he will be ridden by Richard Mullen who said: "I am very much looking forward to riding him on the Meydan [All-Weather] over this kind of trip as he loves the surface and stays very well. He has three good runs under his belt already this season, stepping up in trip each time and Saturday's race should be perfect for him. We are very hopeful."

Seemar's horse actually chased home the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Treble Jig at Abu Dhabi over 2400m last time and his jockey, Wayne Smith, said: "Obviously the handicapper has had his say but we were very pleased with Treble Jig. He had been working very well on the [All-Weather] before Abu Dhabi so I don't think that will be a problem. If he stays the extra 400m he will go very close."

Al Raihe's Monte Alto has to give weight to his seven rivals and jockey Richard Hills sounds hopeful rather than confident. He said: "Stamina is obviously a query but we know he stays 2400m well and handles [the surface] so it is worth a try with him."

Royaaty, trained by Mubarak bin Shafya, looks a threat stepped up to this distance and should not be ignored.

Racing opens with the sole Purebred Arabian handicap, the 1600m Al Basti Equiworld - Baileys Cup in which Versac Py looks the likely winner at a matinee meeting where, arguably, victory for either Myownway or Florentine Ruler in the concluding 1900m Al Basti Equiworld - Hygain Trophy would be the most popular result on the card. Both are owned by race sponsor Malih Al Basti.




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