February 12, 2012, Abu Dhabi~The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club is host and sponsor to their meeting on Sunday afternoon with the UAE Arabian Derby the main highlight on the seven race card.
Restricted to four-year-olds, the 2200m feature has attracted a field of 11 with owner His Excellency Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan looking to hold a very strong hand with three of the leading contenders. All three are trained by Majed Al Jahouri with Harry Bentley riding Areem who will be making his local debut after four starts in Europe. Areem won on his debut before being elevated into Group 1 company where he was runner-up in a 1600m contest at Chantilly. Well beaten on his third start, he was then second in a Listed race and Bentley said: “His form looks good and the trainer is having a good season so I am hoping for a big run.”
Stable companion Naseem was very impressive on his local debut when winning the opening round of The Arabian Triple Crown under Wayne Smith who retains the partnership. Smith, last season’s champion jockey, was impressed by that success and said: “That was a very good win and he did it very nicely. This is a big step up in trip but if he stays he should be very competitive but Areem could be the big danger.”
When winning that race five weeks ago he was chased home by Al Jahouri’s Rakha who is again in opposition with Royston Ffrench in the saddle on this occasion. The form of that race looks good with the third, Thakif (also trained by Al Jahouri) winning the Group 3 Al Ruwais last week.
Naseem, trained by Ernst Oertel, was fourth behind the Al Jahouri trio five weeks ago and looks set for minor honours again with Mirco Demuro in the saddle.
Also on tap, the 1600m Emirates Fillies’ Classic, another Prestige race with prize money of Dh 100,000. In this race, Demuro will ride the favorite, Manisha, also trained by Oertel, who also runs Jayashri and Maharani, all from the Al Asayl Stables. Eric Lemartinel saddles Af Al Hemah, to be ridden by Tadig O’Shea who won the Abu Dhabi Fillies’ Classic over this course and distance.
The only Thoroughbred race on the card concludes events with the maximum field of 14 going to post in the 2200m contest.