x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dual threat for elusive prize

The President's Cup for Purebred Arabians is one of the major prizes missing from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's trophy cabinet.

Shadiyda, right, finishing second here to Mizzna at Abu Dhabi in December, is expected to be a strong contender in this evening's President's Cup, in which he will again be ridden by Ted Durcan.
Shadiyda, right, finishing second here to Mizzna at Abu Dhabi in December, is expected to be a strong contender in this evening's President's Cup, in which he will again be ridden by Ted Durcan.

ABU DHABI // The President's Cup for Purebred Arabians is one of the major prizes missing from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed's trophy cabinet, but Eric Lemartinel, the trainer, is optimistic of winning it for the owner with a double-edged challenge in the Dh1 million race today. The Frenchman saddles Lahib and Shadiyda, who is trying for the third time to win the Group 1 race at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

"Lahib will have benefited from the Prep race four weeks ago, he was making his local debut and would have needed the run. He was also unlucky in that race as he didn't get a clear run," said Lemartinel. "Shadiyda has run two excellent races in defeat over the inadequate mile distance behind Mizzna, and he too had traffic problems to overcome from a bad draw in the Prep race. He was doing his best work towards the end though."

Lahib has done enough to show he has strong claims on tonight's prize. His last two starts, in France, ended in disappointment, but he has otherwise won five races from 13 career starts, including two Group 1 and two Group 3 prizes. He was expected to make a winning local debut in the Prep race but could finish only fifth behind Time Out, the surprise winner. Shadiyda was a good third out of gate 14, the widest draw.

Shadiyda, the 2007 UAE Arabian Derby winner, has performed well in his two previous President's Cup attempts. The seven-year-old was beaten by less than four lengths by Dynamite in 2008 and was a length behind Nirwan in third place last year. French rider Gerald Avranche will partner Lahib again and Ted Durcan, the seven-time UAE champion jockey, retains his ride on Shadiyda. The champion trainer DougWatson's Nirwan will be trying to emulate Ezil and Madjani in winning back-to-back President's Cups. Nirwan is the choice of Richard Hills, the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, ahead of the owner's two other runners, Remarkable Man and Nesnaas.

Rod Simpson's Kahayla Classic winner Fryvolous should make a winning reappearance in the Group 3 Al Ruwais Sprint over the minimum trip. Lemartinel holds strong claims in the Breeders Cup with AF Maqam Alezz and Rafed, while Ratim and Dallonni seem the picks for the two maiden prizes and Tawaassol is fancied over Warriors Key, Naipe Marcado and Mofarij in the last race. apassela@thenational.ae