20 February 2020, Meydan, UAE ~ Racing on the turf Sunday, 1 March 2020, at Abu Dhabi will be highlighted by a renewal of the 1400m Group 2 Liwa Oasis which has attracted a field of 13, including the 2016 and subsequent Group 1 Kahayla Classic winner AF Mathmoon.
Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 9-year-old entire has not been seen in public since well beaten when attempting to defend his Kahayla Classic crown in 2017, so is returning from a massive 1072 days off the track.
He will need to be somewhere near his best if to make a winning return though with Eric Lemartinel, who also saddles RB Torch and RB Money To Burn, the later the winner of this year’s Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 over 1600m on the Meydan dirt surface. Owned by Sheikha Alyazia bint Sultan Al Nahyan, the 5-year-old mare has only been beaten once after six starts.
Lemartinel said: “RB Torch is a nice horse who likes it at Abu Dhabi and should run well, but RB Money To Burn is exciting. She won the first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge nicely and will go for the Kahayla Classic after this.”
AF Mathmoon was originally raced by his breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, whose black and silver silks will be carried by the exciting AF Alwajel, thrice a winner after seven career outings. All three victories have been registered on dirt at Sharjah, but his latest appearance, here on the Abu Dhabi turf, was a staying on second in the 1200m Group 3 Al Ruwais Stakes. Prior to that he was fifth behind RB Money To Burn in the Al Maktoum Challenge R1.
He will be ridden by the owner’s retained jockey, Tadhg O’Shea and his trainer, Ernst Oertel, said: “He is a nice horse and one we have always really liked. He had a poor draw last time and unfortunately does again, but is in good form and we are hoping for a big run.”
Wadeeaa is another Group 1 winner in the field, but has not won again since that big race victory in last year’s Al Maktoum Challenge R1.
Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R2
Thirteen 4-year-olds will take their chance in the 2200m Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown R2 in which O’Shea rides RB Seqondtonone for Byerley Racing and Saifaldin Deeb. Runner-up on both his local starts, in the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship and Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1, each time over 1600m, he appears to hold strong claims to register a first UAE victory. If he can, he will add to the one he managed in the US, over 1200m on dirt on what was his second and final start in his homeland.
Third in the first round was Basmah, one of three fillies in this race. She remains a maiden after four starts, but does represent the powerful Al Asayl team of Lemartinel. Seemingly the choice of Fabrice Veron, she is owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as is stablemate Rokbello Du Cayrou, the mount of Adrie de Vries, but ridden by Veron when landing a 1400m on dirt at Al Ain a fortnight ago.
The only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap, has attracted the maximum allowed field of 16 and looks wide open with the weights headed by Dalaalaat, another representing Sheikh Hamdan, Al Mheiri and Crowley.