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Rod Simpson has a fancied runner, Marjan al Asayl, on tonight's Abu Dhabi card.
Rod Simpson has a fancied runner, Marjan al Asayl, on tonight's Abu Dhabi card.

Connections confident but Ibn Battuta faces a big test

Ibn Battuta faces his toughest test yet in tonight's President's Cup Prep, the highlight and only race for thoroughbreds in a mixed six-race meeting in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Ibn Battuta faces his toughest test yet in tonight's President's Cup Prep, the highlight and only race for thoroughbreds in a mixed six-race meeting in Abu Dhabi. The colt has won twice over the course and distance, and on his last appearance he put in an impressive performance as he trounced Palm Court by four lengths.

"He is the kind of horse to keep progressing," said the Emirati trainer Musabah al Muhairi. "It's only his fourth race but he has improved with every run. He is taking on some of the better horses but we expect a big run from him." Ibn Battuta will face a tough challenge from some seasoned campaigners led by the Satish Seemar-trained Escape Route. The son of Elusive Quality may be the pick of this race with the benefit of two runs, winning a conditions race over the minimum trip and finishing fourth to Montpellier nine days ago over a furlong longer, both at Jebel Ali.

Dhruba Selvaratnam, who sent Jaasoos to win the listed National Day Cup last week, has two runners, Yasoodd and Ans Bach, winner of the National Day Cup in 2007 over the course and distance. Ordoki has shown signs of returning to top form in his three starts this season. The six-year-old son of Al Sakbe looks ready to end his winless run in the Emirates in the eight-furlong Muktaa Bridge. Baher and his stablemate Dahes are the dangers along with an interesting newcomer, King Kreak, a Godolphin-bred four-year-old son of Flaming Streak who has two wins already from four starts in the United States.

Million can set up a double for the trainer Jaber Bittar by claiming the second race, a six-runner maiden. The Bibi De Carrere colt is the most experienced, having run three times, and should have the edge over the Gillian Duffield-trained pair Timoon and Sestamina. Rod Simpson, the leading trainer of purebred Arabians in the UAE, had no winners in Abu Dhabi last time but Marjan al Asayl is favourite to provide him with one tonight in the penultimate race. Zain Al Reef and Ameer Al Sraya must also be considered.

Al Nashmy catches the eye in the opener after two good runs in Sharjah. And As Mushrif can make a winning reappearance in the fourth race where his main opposition may come from Rakeel, who receives 10kgs and has the benefit of two runs. apassela@thenational.ae

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