ABU DHABI // Majed Al Jahouri is fast making a name for himself as a racehorse trainer. Having saddled his first Group 3 winner last weekend, the young Emirati has a chance to enhance his reputation with a strong presence in the UAE Arabian Derby tonight.
The former endurance rider is now the principal trainer for the Al Wathba Stables of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, and some highly rated juvenile Arabians. The first string of the stables' thoroughbreds are also under his charge.
Al Jahouri has the three highest-rated entries - Naseem, Rakha and Areem - in tonight's derby, a 2,200-metre race for four year olds with Prestige status, the centrepiece of the seven-race card at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Naseem (rated 105) was an impressive, 10-length winner from stable companions Rakha (105) in the Arabian Triple Crown Round One in his first start in the UAE. Thakif, a Wathba horse who was third in that race, went on to win the Group 3 Al Ruwais sprint.
Areem is the highest rated, at 115, and is making his UAE debut. He comes with a fine record in France, winning on debut and placing second in a Group-1 race. He was unplaced in a similar contest in his next start before running second in a Listed race in which Naseem was third.
"Areem has the best credentials of the three entries but it's his first race," Al Jahouri said. "I would expect all three to run big races and the best one win. But they are certainly not the only three horses in the race. It is a competitive field."
Al Jahouri received his trainer's license in the 2008/09 season but had to wait until the following year for his first winner. He won five races in that season but drew a blank in his third year.
He already has saddled four winners this season including a Group 3 and a Listed prize, and backed by one of the most prominent personalities in the country, Al Jahouri is on a solid platform to emerge as one of the leading trainers in the coming years.
Wayne Smith, the UAE champion jockey, retains the ride on Naseem, which he described as the best Arabian he had ridden since winning the Dubai Kahayla Classic on Nez D'Or in 2002.
"That was a very good win [the Arabian Triple Crown] and he did it very nicely," Smith said. "He has an excellent turn of foot. However, this is a big step up in trip for him."
Harry Bentley, who rode Thakif to both his victories in Abu Dhabi for Al Jahouri, partners Areem.
"His form looks good and the trainer is having a good season so I am hoping for a big run," he said.
Daffagh Al Asayl, who was fourth in the Arabian Triple Crown Round 1, is most likely to challenge to Al Jahouri's trio.