x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Arabian action at Ascot

A historic day with the first Arabian race to be staged at famous racecourse and Jazeerat al Saadiyaat and Elmalak Elwaheed are among the 13 horses in the field.

ASCOT // Racing history will be made today when 13 line up for the English leg of the President of the UAE Cup, the first Arabian race to be staged at famous Ascot racecourse. The international series for top-flight Arabians is now in its 15th year and, for the first time in an almost 300-year Ascot history, holds pride of place on a prestigious card just after thoroughbred highlight, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Two go in the Royal colours of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi in the 1m 2f contest for four-year-olds and older. Jazeerat al Saadiyaat is ridden by Ted Durcan and the filly, Elmalak Elwaheed, will have Daragh O'Donohoe on board. Both are prepared by UAE-based handler, Rod Simpson. Simpson, who also trains Sheikh Khalifa's top-rated Arabian, Fryvolous, promised a good race.

"They are both nice horses and show promising form, so we are hopeful," he said. "They are up against some of the world's best purebred Arabians and it's going to be a great spectacle." Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed continues the UAE flavour with Adjinn d'Aroco, under Richard Hills while Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed saddles Raked with Francois-Xavier Bertras in the leathers. Qatari interests, always strong on the Arabian circuit, have put together a formidable force headed by Alban de Mieulle, trainer of recent Fryvolous victor, Al Dhama, saddling General; a horse he is said to rate more highly than his superstar mare.

The scene for the historic Arabian race will be set by the preceding contest - the anticipated King George VI Stakes. Nine go to the start for 1m 4f pitting Classic-age runners against older horses. One of Sir Michael Stoute's three, Conduit, has been monopolising headlines in the run-up and speculation is rife whether stable jockey, Ryan Moore, will plump for the favourite and 2008 St Leger winner or opt for Prince of Wales Stakes runner-up, Tartan Bearer. Sir Michael also saddles Epsom Coronation Cup winner, Ask.

The King George has attracted three-year-olds for the first time since 2005, and it's worth sparing a thought for one of the younger generation, the Sheikh Hamdan-owned, John Gosden-trained, Alwaary, who faces his first Group One test. His connections feel he should have won his most recent outing, a Grade Two at Newmarket when stewards upgraded him from third to second after being impeded in running.

"Alwaary needs everything going for him," Sheikh Hamdan's racing manager, Angus Gold, said. "He's against the best of the older generation and it's a big step up for him into Group One company." stregoning@thenational.ae