x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Duffield hopes for a touch of Class

Gillian Duffield is ready for a "Royal Class" act from her exciting colt in the Abu Dhabi Championship for three-year-old Purebred Arabians.

The champion trainer Gillian Duffield will be hoping for big things from Royal Class.
The champion trainer Gillian Duffield will be hoping for big things from Royal Class.

ABU DHABI // Gillian Duffield is ready for a "Royal Class" act from her exciting colt tonight in the Abu Dhabi Championship for three-year-old Purebred Arabians at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Royal Class was an impressive winner of the Group 2 Jumeirah Group International Stakes at Newbury in only his second career start in July. And he is heading the 16-runner field on his UAE debut in which the in-form trainer Rod Simpson's fillies Men Abu Dhabi and Elamalak Elwaheed stand out as the main challenge. The listed prize in Abu Dhabi, which used to be the Al Asayl Championship, is one of the few trophies Duffield has missed out on as the leading trainer for Purebred Arabians, and Royal Class seems well on the mark to achieve that for her. Simpson's fillies spearheading the challenge are coming off the back of convincing wins. Men Abu Dhabi won both his starts without much sweat under John McGinn and Daragh O'Donohoe, who retains the ride. And Elamalak Elwaheed was equally impressive on her debut victory under apprentice Sophie Doyle, who keeps the ride on the chestnut daughter of Djeb Bon. The one to spring a surprise can be Eric Lemartinel's Shamess, who finished behind Royal Class on his debut run in France, which was won by Akim du Ducor, a juvenile unbeaten in France before being bought to race in Qatar. But Simpson can strike it rich in the six-race card. The veteran Englishman who took charge of the Al Asayl Stables in Abu Dhabi, is on a roll and could be signing off the year with a treble with Le Tarmes, Kelmat Alser and Time Out. Le Tarmes can open Simpson's account but his best chance seems to be in the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic with Kelmat Alser - a strapping 17-hand tall gelded son of Johnny On The Spot - who is on a re-match after placed third behind Shaheer I and Afdal Thani. Time Out is on a good handicap mark to claim the concluding event from Markoom, from whom he receives nine kilos with Doyle's claim for a recent two-length defeat on the dirt. The Emirati jockey Ahmad Ajtebi can celebrate his first win after shedding his apprentice claim on Mountain Fresh and provide Mohammed Ramadan of his first win, while Rachidia can get back to winning ways five starts after a smashing debut victory. apassela@thenational.ae