First and second in last year’s version contest once again, with the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Rochdale sure to be a popular Pick Six selection to repeat that win from Kal Barg, trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam.
Selvaratnam’s runners normally improve from their first run each season but Kal Barg was making his return to action when second in this last year and should certainly not be ruled out of Pick Six calculations.
Doug Watson trains Dr Faustus who was eighth in the race won by Rochdale at Meydan’s first meeting but is strongly fancied to finish a lot closer under Tadhg O’Shea.
Watson said: “He would have come on a lot from that run and we were pleased enough with his return. These are probably his best conditions and he should go well.”
Pat Cosgrave rides the unexposed Royaaty for Mubarak bin Shafya and the jockey sounds hopeful of a big run also. He said: “Hopefully this is a horse who can have a good season. He ran some big races last time round, seems in good form at home and I am hoping he can be competitive in a good little race.”
Rochdale is not the only runner on the card who won at the opening Meydan meeting with Kingdom Beauty and Skycruiser, both trained by Satish Seemar, also seeking second victories in the early stages of the season.
The former takes her chance in a handicap over 1200m, the distance she won a maiden. Skycruiser looks to add another victory, stepped up to 1600m after winning over 1400m last time out.
Purebred Arabian racing returns to Meydan and 11 have been declared for the 1400m handicap, which opens proceedings at 3pm.
Naseem Al Reef, trained by Eric Lemartinel, has won at Abu Dhabi already this season so has at least proved his wellbeing. The same applies to GRP Mudhish, who will be having his first start on the All-Weather surface.
Ernst Oertel has made a great start to his first season training at Al Asayl and his Noor Einy should go close to providing the trainer with a first Meydan winner. Adrian Nicholls takes the mount.