Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

Al Shamoos in prime position for Dh5m Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown

The five-year-old mare looks to repeat last year's success in Abu Dhabi, but faces stronger field this time round

Jockey Julien Auge celebrates after guiding Al Shamoos to victory in Abu Dhabi last year. Pawan Singh / The National
Jockey Julien Auge celebrates after guiding Al Shamoos to victory in Abu Dhabi last year. Pawan Singh / The National

Al Shamoos has the plum draw in gate No 3 again in the Dh 5million Group One Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday.

The five-year-old mare, trained in France by Charles Gourdain and ridden by Frenchman Julien Auge, carried the silks of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed to success in the world’s richest race for the Purebred Arabians last year.

She returns for her title defence but faces a stronger challenge led by the Saudi Arabian hopeful Mashhur Al Khalediah, the highest rated horse at 121 in the field.

The 14-runner field also includes French raiders Bel’izam, a recent acquisition for Sheikh Rashid bin Hamdan, Hayyan and Belqees who are both in the silks of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s Yas Racing Management, and another Saudi runner Shareq Al Khalediah.

Bel’izam was the first picked out of the pot and starts from the second widest gate in 13.

“He’s a hold up horse and the draw will not be a big issue,” French trainer Damien de Watrigant said of the four-year-old colt by Nizam at a draw ceremony at the National Theatre in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“He’s a nice horse and won very well the last time in Toulouse [in October] He’s now more mature horse. It’s his first run for the new owners and they are very happy of this horse.”

Eric Lemartinel goes in with the undefeated filly RB Money To Burn, the choice of the stables’ first jockey Fabrice Veron, and Darius Du Paon, runner up in the Jewel Crown Trial and Adrie de Vries on the saddle.

RB Money To Burn is drawn in 7 and Darius Du Paon in 2 and their trainer believes they are drawn well in the middle and the inside rail, respectively, and are in good order coming into the race.

“RB Money To Burn has done everything she has been asked for but this race is tougher,” Lemartinel said. “Darius ran a good last race. Adrie has ridden this horse before and he’s got a good chance as well.”

Veron, who rides RB Money To Burn in the morning workouts and won three of her four starts, is hoping he’s made the right call of the two runners from the Al Asayl Stables.

“She’s better than last season,” said the Frenchman. “Last year, she was still young but won all her starts pretty well. Now she understands her job after a lot of work.

“She’s got a lot of natural speed and is going into this race in good order. She’s got a good draw as well.”

The six-race card at Abu Dhabi also includes both the IFAHR (International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing) Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship and the Apprentice World Championship.

Updated: November 19, 2019 05:31 PM

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