Arabian Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup worth 500,00 dhms
8 December 2018, Abu Dhabi, UAE ~ Traditionally one of the highlights of the Abu Dhabi campaign, Sunday, 9 December 2018 will feature National Day Cup fixture promises to be a cracker with two competitive highlights, one of the big Thoroughbred races in the capital each season, as well as the Purebred Arabian equivalent. Both races are over 1600m and have a new name this year: Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup.
The only Thoroughbred race on the card – The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup (Listed) — looks particularly competitive with the maximum allowed field of 16 set to face the starter around the sharp, clockwise, Abu Dhabi track.
They include the veteran Forjatt, now a 10-year-old, victorious in the race in 2015 when trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam for His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and seeking to become the third dual winner of a race first contested in 1993. However, Emirates Gold (2007/2008) and Sheikh Ahmed’s Jaasoos (2009/10) both retained the title whereas no horse has regained it since. Chris Hayes, in the saddle for that 2015 victory is so again for Nicholas Bachalard who is in his first season as Sheikh Ahmed’s retained trainer at Jebel Ali Stables.
Arguably the most interesting runner is Surfer, the mount of Richard Mullen for Satish Seemar and Zabeel Racing International. Now a 9-year-old, his main claim to fame was a victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2) on the dirt surface at Meydan in 2015. This will only be his fifth run since and his previous turf outing was for Godolphin at Newmarket in October 2011 when, still a maiden after four attempts, he was fifth in a handicap. In fact, before losing his maiden tag, his resume included a fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) and second in the Al Bastakiya (Listed), the first two rounds of the UAE Triple Crown.
The Purebred Arabian Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan National Day Cup (PA G3) also has 16 runners but, despite the large field, looks less competitive than the Thoroughbred version.
Last year’s winner, Darius Du Paon (NO RISK AL MAURY), one of four in the field trained by Eric Lemartinel for His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is seeking to become the second dual winner of the race (inaugurated in 2010 as the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup), but first to defend the crown (Areem won in 2012 and 2015). However, he is the mount of Olivier Delouze having, again, been overlooked by stable jockey Pat Cosgrave.
Cosgrave has elected to partner Mawahib(ABU ALEMARAT), narrowly denied in the 1400m Bani Yas sponsored by Gulf News (PA G2) at Meydan last time having previously finished third in the world’s most valuable Purebred Arabian race, the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown (PA G1). Seemingly well drawn in three, she is a 5-year-old seeking her sixth career victory, second on turf, and clearly arrives in good heart.
Seventh, almost six lengths behind Mawahib in the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown, was Rmmas (Mahabb) perhaps one of the main dangers with Mullen in the saddle for Sheikha Fatima bint Mansour Al Nahyan and Jean de Roualle. He was impressive landing the 1400m Liwa Oasis (PA G2) on the Abu Dhabi turf on his final start of last season in March but does incur a penalty for that success.
Among the remainder, both Cheik Roque (Dahess), with Antonio Fresu sporting the EERC silks for Erwan Charpy and Goshawke (Thoroughbred (US), look capable of running well. The latter trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi for Al Ajban Stables, is the mount of Fernando Jara.