The Group 3 Al Ruwais, over 1000m, is the highlight at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday, with a select field of seven set to face the starter, including AF Maqayes, the mount of UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.
Homebred by Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, AF Maqayes has won six of his 13 career outings but has not visited the Winner’s Enclosure since his final start of last season, in March.
That was actually his sixth victory of a busy season and he has faced some stiff tasks in his four outings during the current campaign, most recently when a remote fifth in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1.
“It is been hard to find suitable races under his ideal conditions so far this season,” said O’Shea. “However, the 1000m at Abu Dhabi really does suit him and he has won all three of his starts over course and distance.
“He should go very well and we are pretty hopeful.”
Also unbeaten over the Abu Dhabi 1000m dash is Ain Jaloot, a 1200m course winner just last week for Musabbeh Al Mheiri and jockey, Fernando Jara who is again in the saddle.
“He won very well last week and is clearly in good form,” said Jara. “Obviously this is a better race but he should not be far away.”
On his penultimate start, Jara’s mount was beaten into second, also over 1200m, by RB Torch, back in opposition for trainer, Eric Lemartinel and sporting the colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
With O’Shea claimed to partner AF Maqayes for Al Rayhi, Gerald Avranche takes the ride and, with the yard in flying form, he looks a big danger.
“He was third in this race last year the only time he has run over 1000m,” said Avranche. “He won his last start well and that form looks strong so hopefully he can go close.”
The main support race is the 1600m Listed Arabian Triple Crown R1 for which 12 have been declared but all appears to revolve around Omani raider, Maisoor.
Unbeaten after seven outings, six on dirt in Doha, he could not have been more impressive winning his sole previous UAE assignment, the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship over the same 1600m.
He crossed the line ten lengths clear of the rest on that occasion, providing both his trainer, Said Al Badi for whom he was a first UAE runners, and jockey Anas Al Sibi, their maiden local victories.
If he is in anything like the same kind of form this week, he will be very hard to beat and, since that Abu Dhabi victory, has won again, just over two weeks ago, back in Doha.