Saudi Star Puts Unbeaten Record on the Line In Dubai Kahayla Classic

The Dubai Kahayla Classic is race one on the nine-race card, with scheduled post time of 3:30pm UAE

Asfan Al Khalediah

28 March 2024, Dubai, UAE ~ He’s 17 from 17 – so far, so unbeaten, so brilliant. That’s Asfan Al Khalediah, the Saudi star bound for the Dubai Kahayla Classic [sponsored by One Za’abeel).

Trained by Nasser Multaq, the seven-year-old Purebred Arabian sealed his greatness five weeks ago with victory in the G1 Obaiya Arabian Classic at the Saudi Cup meeting. His trainer, who also saddles G1 Mneefah Cup winner Tilal Al Khalediah, reports both have been in fine form since arriving in Dubai on Sunday.

“They are happy and relaxed and seem to like the Meydan track,” he said. “We are running two because then we have a greater chance of winning. I don’t mind who wins, either one is good for Al Khalediah.”

Taking on the Saudi pair are eight other Group 1 winners, including First Classs, winner of this race in 2022. He is now trained by Doug Watson who issued an upbeat bulletin.

“We’ve intentionally freshened him up since his last run,” said the UAE Champion Trainer. “Pat Dobbs [jockey] wasn’t too upset with the wide draw [12] as he doesn’t like being crowded in his races and will try and make his way around horses.”

An international field includes the Oman-trained Falaah, trained by the country’s Champion Trainer Ahmed Al Balushi. He has travelled to Meydan before, finishing second to the reopposing RB Rich Lyke Me in G1 Maktoum Challenge R1 in December.

“Everything is OK with him after a three-and-a-half-hour road journey from Oman,” said the trainer. “He was second in the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 but he likes 2000 metres more than the 1600 metres which was short for him.”

A strong local team includes RB Kingmaker, who switches surfaces after winning the G1 President’s Cup on turf at Abu Dhabi.

“We moved him to Meydan after his win in the HH The Presidents Cup a month ago,” said trainer Helal Al Alawi, who has his main base in Al Ain. “He is an American-bred horse so will have no problems on dirt and actually performed well in his initial days at Al Ain. He trains and performs better on dirt than on turf.”

Three-time UAE Champion Trainer Ernst Oertel won this race in 2019 with AF Maher and tries again with AF Alwajel, who makes a remarkable return having been briefly retired to stud.

“He injured himself a couple of years back so we gave him some time off,” he said. “He covered a few mares and then Khalid [Khalifa Al Nabooda, Owner-Breeder] suggested we bring him back. I’ve done it with a few horses, but none of his ability so I said why not?

“It was a good comeback run [second to Suny Du Loup in G1 Maktoum Challenge R3]. He was fit for the race, but it has brought him on and now we are just focusing on keeping him sound and getting him to the race. I wouldn’t swap him for anything.”