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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

RB Burn looks to make it two in a row in the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown

The 2016 victor starts from Gate No 14 in Friday's race at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

RB Burn, ridden by jockey Gerald Avranche, is in action at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday. Erika Rasmussen for The National
RB Burn, ridden by jockey Gerald Avranche, is in action at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday. Erika Rasmussen for The National

Jockey Gerald Avranche believes RB Burn is in the form to repeat last year's success when he lines to try and retain the Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown on Friday at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

He won the 2016 event with a confident performance after starting from Gate 2 and making his move on the final bend to charge home first after taking the lead with 200 metres to go.

This time, though, RB Burn has to deal with a wide draw. He jumps out of gate No14 from the 15 starters as he bids to retain his hold on the €1.2million (Dh5.1m) prize for the Purebred Arabians.

RB Burn won the Group 1 Liwa Oasis on the track and in-between was runner up in the both the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 and the Dubai Kahayla Classic on the Dubai World Cup meeting.

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Avranche, who has ridden the five-year-old grey son of Majd Al Arab in all his four starts, was naturally concerned of the draw.

“He is a very good and versatile horse,” said the Frenchman. “He seems in the same kind of form as he was before the race last year but I would have preferred a better draw.”

Eric Lemartinel who trains RB Burn also has Mahbooba in the race, ridden by Tadhg O’Shea.

Mahbooba, the winner of the Group 1 Emirates Championship over 2,200m on the concluding meeting in Abu Dhabi last season, is well drawn the widest in gate 15.

“We are out in the car park,” joked O’Shea. “The only positive about stall 15 is the two inside us, RB Burn and Muraaqib, are probably the two to beat. So, hopefully I can track them.

“She shows her best form at Abu Dhabi and stays further so, hopefully, they will go quick and her stamina can come into play. We should be staying on strongly.”

Muraaqib in the popular silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and trained in France, by Francois Rohaut is making his local debut.

The five-year-old chestnut son of Munjiz ridden by the owner’s retained jockey Jim Crowley is a winner of seven of his nine starts, including five Group 1 prizes.

He’s won two of his three starts in 2017, and most recently in Turkey, and looks a big danger to all.

Shateh trained by another Frenchman Jean de Roualle in Al Ain is another to be considered.

Richard Mullen, the UAE champion jockey, is atop the eight-year-old chestnut by Mahabb drawn in gate No.1.

“He is a nice horse and seems in good form,” said Mullen. “It is, obviously, a very good race but we have drawn well and should be thereabouts.”

The six-race card, comprising of five races for Arabians and one for thoroughbreds, include the finals of the 2017 Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, a series of races for both women jockeys and apprentices.