Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

Al Zahir goes for hat-trick in Group One President’s Cup in Abu Dhabi

Seven-year-old bids to defend title despite in first outing of the season

Al Zahir, ridden by Jim Crowley, comes home first in the HH The President's Cup. Erika Rasmussen for The National
Al Zahir, ridden by Jim Crowley, comes home first in the HH The President's Cup. Erika Rasmussen for The National

A fascinating revival of the Group One President’s Cup for Purebred Arabians and the Listed equivalent for the thoroughbreds highlights the six-race card meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Heading the entries in the Dh2.5million race for the Arabians is the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Al Zahir, bidding for a third successive prize.

The seven-year-old son of the three-time Dubai Kahayla Classic winner Madjani is also attempting to become just the second horse to win this prize more than twice, emulating the legendary five-time winner Alanudd.

However, he returns for his title defence without the advantage of a previous outing this season, which he has had in each of the last two campaigns, and has not been seen since the middle of March.

“Obviously, we know conditions suit him and this is his main first target in a race we have won twice,” said Jim Crowley, the retained jockey for owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid who was on the saddle on both his success.

“Completing the hat trick will not be easy, but we are hoping for a big run.”

Spearheading the challenge is Rmmas, winner of the Prep race three weeks ago, who ticks all the boxes as he bids for a first President’s Cup success for trainer Jean de Roualle.

He had the re-opposing field, including Harrab, Darius De Paon, Goshawk and Abu Alabyad – in that order - behind him that day.

De Roualle, who has entered Ziyadd in the US1.9million The Obaiya Arabian Classic in the inaugural Saudi Cup meeting on February 29, is confident Ziyadd can replicate his Prep race victory.

“It’s a similar field and the others are expected to come from that run but I’m confident for another good run from Ziyadd,” the Frenchman said.

“He’s run consistently well in good company and he’s come out well from his last race.”

The seven-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea retains the ride on the seven-year-old son of Mahabb.

In the thoroughbred race, Legendary Lunch is attempting to become just the second dual winner of the race after Diffident, successful in both 1996 and 1998.

The mount of Adrie de Vries trained by Bahraini Fawzi Nass arrive in good form having celebrated a double at Meydan last Saturday.

“The horses are running very well,” De Vries said. “We know he likes it at Abu Dhabi and the 1,400m really suits him, so with luck in running, he will hopefully be thereabouts.”

Crowley has elected to ride Taamol from the three Sheikh Hamdan runners Crowley with the owner’s second jockey Dane O’Neill is aboard Yaalail, both trained by Al Rayhi.

Satish Seemar who saddled a four-timer at Jebel Ali on Friday has three entered with the stable jockey Richard Mullen opting for Riflescope.

Updated: February 8, 2020 05:12 PM

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