February 25, 2014, Doha, Qatar ~ The Milers take centre stage on day two of the three-day racing events being contested as part of the HH the Emir 23rd International Equestrian Sword Festival at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club (QREC) on Wednesday February 26.
Harran makes his third appearance in the Group 1 Qatar International Trophy for Purebred Arabians, having won the race in 2012 and finished fifth a year ago. Trained by Julian Smart for HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Harran finished second twice to Bin Amer, who was on a winning run stretching over four races, before turning the tables by half a length over 1,400m in Doha on 5 February, with Harran’s stablemate Harrir a length away third.
The trio will meet again, but they face stiff opposition from Fouladh, who is stepped up in class after winning the Gulf Cup for local-bred Arabians at the Festival for the last two years, the much-travelled No Problem Al Maury, ridden by Frankie Dettori, and Harran’s stablemate Al Majh’Hoor, winner of the Qatar Purebred Arabian Derby over 1,600m in December.
Fouladh, whose connections – the Umm Qarn stable run by Alban de Mieulle – were responsible for the first three place-getters in a hectic finish to this race last year, lost by a head his proud record of never having finished out of the first two in 20 previous outings since mid-January 2012 when third to Assy in the Qatar Gold Sword on 6 February.
No Problem Al Maury, who represents Al Shaqab Racing, is trained in France and comes to the race having won in Belgium and Turkey and finished runner-up in the US on his last three starts, but is having his first race since early November.
Al Majh’Hoor followed up his Derby success by running a close fourth to stablemate Al Anga, who will be a strong fancy for Thursday’s HH the Emir’s Sword, in the HH Sheikh Abdulla Bin Khalifa Al Thani Cup on 16 January.
Adding spice to the race is the four-year-old filly Aden, who is unbeaten in four races, culminating in the Doha Oaks for Purebred Arabians on 26 December, for HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani and trainer Smart.
In the Qatar International 1600m Cup G2 for Thoroughbreds, Olivier Peslier rides Umm Qarn’s Burren Quality, who has failed to win in five races since last year’s Qatar International Cup, but came within half a length of breaking that sequence when dead-heating with Wednesday’s rival Right To Dream behind Excuse To Linger on 13 February.
Amico Mio, last year’s runner-up for owner Sheikh Nasser Bin Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani, retains all his enthusiasm at the age of eight, having won five of his last eight races, and is equally effective at distances between 1,600m and 2,400m. In contrast, Lion D’Anvers and Miblish, from the stable of leading trainer Jassim Ghazali, have yet to race at 1,600m in Qatar, after establishing their credentials over longer distances.