Last year’s Abu Dhabi Triple Crown winner Abu Alemarat makes his eagerly anticipated return in the race having won his last four starts.
Trainer Rod Simpson, who has fitted blinkers on his youngster and secured the services of the in-form Daragh O’Donohoe said: “The horse seems in good form but this is obviously a big step up for him.
‘We should find out exactly where we stand but he is conceding weight to some proven older horses.”
Those include Shadiyda, whose trainer Eric Lemartinel has already saddles five winners this season – including three at last week’s Abu Dhabi meeting.
Gerald Avranche, who rode two of those winners last week, jets in from Bahrain and said: “It is nice to ride these good horses and the yard are obviously in great form. He must have a great chance.”
Stable companion Baher can go well, while Satish Seemar’s Royal Epic looked a likely winner at Nad Al Sheba last time before hanging when he hit the front.
Like Abu Alemarat, Gill Duffield’s Mabrum, under Ted Durcan, is another penalised having won the Group 1 Emirates Championship over course and distance on his last start in March when chased home by Jaber Bittar’s Sami Lotois, who is weighted to reverse that form.
Lemartinel and Avranche should win the 2200m handicap for fillies and mares with Remal, while Duffield’s Muntaliq has to close in the earlier conditions race over the same course and distance.
Champion Jockey Durcan, on his first visit to Abu Dhabi this season, rides Duffield’s charge.