ABU DHABI // Eric Lemartinel is confident that Nieshan will live up to expectations as favourite when he competes in the National Day Cup tonight at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
The six-year-old chestnut son of Akbar showed his form last month when he won the Cup's Prep race three weeks ago by three quarters of a length.
Despite facing tougher opposition in the first Group 1 race for the season at the capital's racecourse, Lemartinel, Nieshan's trainer, is upbeat on his charge's chances.
"It's a new race, a new challenge and some new horses," he said. "It is a stronger race than he won last time but he should come out better from that run under his belt."
Ernst Oertel is double-handed in the race with Fryvolous and Time Out while Majed Al Jahouri, fresh after claiming Meydan's first prize for the Purebred Arabians, holds strong claims with Naseem, Areem, and Musharab.
Fryvolous, the 2009 Dubai Kahayla Classic winner, was a good second behind Nieshan in the Prep, and the winner of the National day Cup in 2008.
Tadhg O'Shea, the champion UAE jockey and now the Al Asayl Stable's first choice rides the nine-year-old son of Dormane in the silks of Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE.
Time Out, the stable's second entry whom O'Shea rode to an impressive win in a strong handicap over the course and distance two weeks ago, will be ridden by Sam Hitchcott.
Naseem spearheads Al Jahouri's trio, all in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed.
Wayne Smith reunites with chestnut colt by Mahabb, a winner of two of his three starts in the UAE, since arriving from France with two career victories.
Ahmed Ajtebi retains the ride on Areem, the winner of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Cup, on the opening meeting in Abu Dhabi on November 11.
"All three are coming to this race in good shape. Naseem is the highest rated of the three but it his first race for the season. But I hope one of them will can get first past the winning post," Al Jahouri said.
Sahib Du Clos is back to defend his crown for trainer Saifaldin Deeb with Richard Mullen replacing Royston Ffrench who was in the saddle 12 months ago.
The thoroughbred version carries Listed status and Jaasoos, trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam, once again seeks his place in the record books as he tries to win the race for a third time.
The gelded son of Noverre won the prize in 2009 and 2010, but was denied an unprecedented hat-trick last year.
"He has been a great horse for us in recent years," Selvaratnam said.
"This year's renewal looks very strong though with the likes of Derbaas in there and it will be a hard race to win this time.
"We managed to get a run into him last week at Jebel Ali and he came out of that in good shape so should run his normal solid race."
Hong Kong preview, s14