ABU DHABI // Saifaldin Deeb's unbeaten local bred colt, Najem al Khalij, will be the favourite for tonight's feature race at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, the Arabian Triple Crown Round-2. The Umm Al Quwaim-based Lebanese trainer is enjoying one of his best seasons, having already saddled 15 winners including the Dh1million President's Cup with Jarnin. Sahib Du Clos won Round-1 of the Triple Crown for Deeb, who has entered the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic winner for the Group 3 prize.
Najem al Khalij, winner in both his starts, returns for the first time in more than two months after recovering from sore shins for the second round of the three-race series for four-year olds run over 11 furlongs. "He should have a big chance if he can run true to his potential," said Deeb. "He has a lot of room for improvement although he is only 80 per cent ready for his return after recovering from sore shins.
"He had to come around horses to win the Colts Classic but this is a tougher race and he tackles the distance for the first time. He is a nice horse with plenty of ability, and he has a fine turn of foot like a thoroughbred." Royston Ffrench retains the ride from Deeb's other two entries, the UAE Arabian Derby fifth Bierton Belle and Ameer al Sraya, who has yet to win from six starts. Peter Barbe, the Frenchman who took charge of the Royal Stables of Oman in October, is double-handed with Al Charif and the filly Kerbelle Lotois. Al Charif comes on the back of a Group 1 win at Saint-Cloud, France, where he ran four times and won twice before coming to the Gulf last year.
The Akbar colt is the highest rated at 90 and the first choice of the Omani duo under another Frenchman, David Badel. Tadhg O'Shea, the leading jockey, is booked on Kerbelle Lotois. Jaci Wickham's Raeaa W'rsan, winner of the Emirates Fillies Classic and Sama Dubai, the runner-up from Michael Kettle's yard, are two others in contention. The concluding event, the Abu Dhabi Championship Prep for thoroughbreds, is the main support event and has drawn a maximum of 12 runners over the same distance.
Erwan Chapry's Hello Morning heads the field after an eye-catching fourth behind Drunken Sailor in a handicap at Meydan recently. firstname.lastname@example.org
5.00pm: Albar Lotois - Paul de Faust 5.30pm: Maram - Nabila 6.00pm: Mooser - Waneessah W'rsan 6.30pm: Azan - Al Mubtadi 7.00pm: Najem Al Khalij - Al Charif 7.30pm: Hello Morning - Envisage