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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Ali Rashid Al Raihe has high hopes for Al Zahir to prevail in the Group 1 Emirates Championship

Final meeting of the racing season in Abu Dhabi takes place on Saturday.

Al Zahir is looking for a victorious end to the Abu Dhabi racing season. Antonie Robertson / The National
Al Zahir is looking for a victorious end to the Abu Dhabi racing season. Antonie Robertson / The National

Ali Rashid Al Raihe is hoping Al Zahir can triumph in Saturday’s Group 1 Emirates Championship for Purebred Arabians at the final race meeting of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Al Zahir certainly can go into the event with a lot of confidence after triumphing in the President's Cup in February on the same course.

“His three wins on local starts have all come in Abu Dhabi and over distances ranging 2,200m to 2,400m, so we are hopeful,” said Al Raihe.

“Going by the work he does at home, he’s probably the best Arabian we have for the turf races. He won The President’s Cup pretty comfortably and hopefully he can replicate that run.”

Al Zahir faces 15 others including five from the Al Asayl Stables trainer Eric Lemartinel.

Abu Alabyad is the choice of Tadhg O’Shea, the first choice jockey for the Abu Dhabi stables, but he finished more than six lengths behind Al Zahir in fifth spot when they met last in The President’s Cup.

The Jean de Roualle-trained Loraa won this race 12 months ago by a neck from Sniper De Monlaou, who also lines up in the race.

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Loraa comes into the race after a couple of disappointing runs, and was well-beaten by Al Zahir in the last start but remains the main hope of De Roualle, who is double handed in the race with Thabit, winner of four races in France, making his UAE debut.

The Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship, the solitary race for thoroughbreds, has drawn the maximum 14 runners headed by Mike de Kock’s Dubai World Cup Carnival winner Light The Lights.

Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Goshawke, having beaten most of his rivals in the last start, heads the field in the Group 3 Arabian Triple Crown Round 3.

In the UAE Arabian Derby, another of Al Hammadi’s runners Al Tiryaq heads the nine-runner field.

Al Tiryaq comes into the race having won four of his six starts for the season but will find Al Raihe’s AF Mashoum, De Roualle’s Dahham and Lemartinel’s quartet led by Zahee, tough challengers for the crown.