x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Decathlete to head three-pronged UAE attack at Longchamp

Godolphin France's Decathlete heads a three-pronged UAE attack in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains at Longchamp, Answered bids to halt Aiden O'Brien's stranglehold on the English Derby picture at Leopardstown in Ireland.

Paul Hanagan riding Muwaary win The Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Handicap Stakes at Newbury Racecourse on April 11, 2014 in Newbury, England. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Paul Hanagan riding Muwaary win The Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Handicap Stakes at Newbury Racecourse on April 11, 2014 in Newbury, England. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Dubai owner Saeed Manana struck in the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last week with Night Of Thunder, and UAE owners are well-represented in the French equivalent at Longchamp today.

The Poule d’Essai des Poulains has attracted 14 runners and there is a three-pronged UAE attack, headed by Godolphin France’s Decathlete.

Decathlete made his season bow last month by taking a minor event at the course over today’s distance of 1,600 metres, and can count on the skills of trainer Andre Fabre and jockey Maxime Guyon, who teamed up to win the English 1,000 Guineas with Miss France last week.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid runs Muwaary, while the axis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa’s Essafinaat racing operation and Qatar Racing relies on Lat Hawill.

Aidan O’Brien’s Giovanni Boldini, who was fourth in the UAE Derby on World Cup night in March, also runs.

Trainer John Gosden is wary of the testing conditions at the Parisian track as his unbeaten Muwaary takes a huge step up in class.

The mount of Paul Hanagan made a big impression on his debut at Newbury last July, and although he missed the rest of the campaign through injury, the Oasis Dream colt looked good on his return to action in handicap company at the same track a month ago.

“He is a bit of an unknown quantity,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan.

“He won his maiden well and then had a minor setback. He then won the handicap at Newbury the other day and I was quite impressed with him in the last furlong. He looks a very strong galloper.

“He has a decent draw,” in Stall 2, “which is a good start, and I just hope the ground doesn’t go too soft. I think if it went very soft, it would be a worry for everyone.

“He looks a very promising horse, but stepping up from a handicap to a Group 1 is clearly a very big step.”

Trainer Marco Botti’s Lat Hawill stormed clear in a Newcastle maiden last October and was far from disgraced when fourth in Newbury’s Greenham Stakes on his return.

“The form of the Greenham has worked out well,” Botti said.

“Our horse was well beaten, but I felt going into the race he might need the experience and he ran respectably.

“Hopefully, he has come on for the run, both in terms of fitness and experience. We think he is sharper now. Because he won his maiden so easily, he didn’t have to get into a battle, so I hope he will have learnt a lot from the Greenham.

“The ground is a bit of an unknown. Good to soft is fine for him, but if it goes very soft we don’t know how he will handle it. The one thing I am not concerned about is the trip. I am sure he’ll get the mile well.”

Alongside the French 1,000 Guineas on the same card is further notable action in Europe with the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown in Ireland, in which trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning team up with Godolphin’s Answered in a bid to topple Aidan O’Brien’s Geoffrey Chaucer.

O’Brien has a stranglehold on the English Derby picture, after favourite Australia ran a promising trial when third in the English 2,000 Guineas. O’Brien also mopped up the two Derby trials at Chester this week with Orchestra in the Chester Vase on Thursday and Kingfisher in the Dee Stakes on Friday.

Elsewhere in Europe, the HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Festival returns to the Hoppergarten Racecourse in Berlin for the fifth round of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup and the seventh leg of the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship.

Twelve runners have been declared to battle it out in the Listed Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup, worth €30,000 (Dh151,604, over 2,000 metres.

The Ladies race is staged over 1,600 metres and carries a purse of €20,000.

Adnan Sultan Al Nuaimi, director of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club said: “The farsightedness vision of HH Sheikh Mansour has paid off and the festival is introducing the UAE to the whole world while strengthening its ties and links around the globe.”

sports@thenational.ae