Eric Lemartinel has an eye on a one-two finish in the National Day Cup Group One race for Purebred Arabians at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club tonight, but most eyes will be on Mizzna. The seven-year-old mare made easy work of the National Day Cup Prep race in the capital three weeks ago under jockey Gerald Avranche, and the pair will vie to reclaim the Cup she won in 2007.
"She is ready, she knows her job and she's ready for it. As long as there are no incidents in the race she should have a very good run," said Lemartinel.
Mizzna did not compete in last year's cup as a chipped bone in her left foreleg left her sidelined for a year. She cut an unassuming figure alongside her stable companions on the gallops this week, as she prepared for tonight.
"She knows she has a race coming. She's ready to spring into action when the time comes," said Lemartinel. "Winning the [National Day Cup] Prep race was exactly what we expected of her.
"Last time she was more ready [for the National Day Cup], but because of the injury we have not worked her as hard. She is a brave horse. We expect her to win. "It is very important for me that she wins. I will be very happy for Mizzna and [owner] Sheikh Mansour. Everybody loves to see the champion come back to form. "We hope this will be her best season. She will compete in the Dubai Kahayla Classic on World Cup night in March. Her mother, [Arabian racer Alanudd] won the Cup three times. Maybe she can do the same."
Mizzna won the Dubai Kahayla Classic in 2008, after coming third in the US$250,000 (Dh919,000) race in 2007. The 1,600m National Day Cup has attracted a strong field, including Mizzna's stablemate Shadiyda - also owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed - who came a close second to the mare in the National Day Cup Prep race. "Shadiyda is Mizzna's biggest competition," said Lemartinel of the 2007 UAE Arabian Derby winner. "Mizzna will have to watch out for him. The distance is a bit sharp for Shadiyda, but he should run a good race.
"Quaolina is one to watch. She's not run for a while, but if she's ready she will be one of the top opposition." The Doug Watson-trained mare will have a tough fight for the finish line, with Palapal, Ordoki, Time Out and Remarkable Man all competing for the placings. Watson may have a better chance of a win in the National Day Cup Listed race for thoroughbreds, the fourth race of the night. The Dubai-based trainer saddles two in the 1,600 metre race, including one of the race favourites, top-rated Kalahari Gold (112) who will run under Tadhg O'Shea. Erwan Charpy runs two horses both of which could finish well in the pack, including six-year-old Emirates Gold (100) who is looking for a third win in the National Day Cup for thoroughbreds. The Ali Rashid al Raihe trained four-year-old Fathayer, National Day Cup Prep for thoroughbreds winner, will also run under Royston Ffrench. @Email:email@example.com
5.00pm: Jowharat Al Asayl - Al Jaziyah W'rsan 5.30pm: Wathik W'rsan - Royal 6.00pm: Shoof Elajab - Jinad 6.30pm: Kalahari Gold - Eddie Jock 7.00pm: Mizzna - Shadiyda 7.30pm: Le Gusta Bailar - Royal Class