x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Kalahari Gold's luck could change today

Top trainer Doug Watson says his charge was unfortunate not to win National Day Cup as big race is shaping up as a humdinger.

Montpellier, left, seen in a tight finish at Jebel Ali last month, runs in today's President's Cup.
Montpellier, left, seen in a tight finish at Jebel Ali last month, runs in today's President's Cup.

ABU DHABI // The champion trainer Doug Watson's Kalahari Gold, unlucky on his racing reappearance, heads the President's Cup entries, which looks a cracker of a race in tonight's seventh meeting of the season in Abu Dhabi. Kalahari Gold did not get a clear run from the rails and eventually finished fifth behind Jaasoos and Emirates Gold in the National Day Cup over the mile distance three weeks ago, and Watson felt the gelded son of Trans Island can put the record straight if he gets a trouble free run.

"He was unlucky last time," said Watson. "He is a lot better than that, and granted some good fortune this time he should get close." Tadhg O'Shea, the retained jockey for the owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, starts from the same gate three and will be aware that he should stay clear of the traffic. Watson is double handed in the race with Prince Shaun, who is making his seasonal reappearance, and will be ridden by the seven times UAE champion Ted Durcan.

Dhruba Selvaratnam is also double-handed with Jaasoos and Yasood, who was third in the President's Cup last year. The Jebel Ali trainer said: "Jaasoos has been going well since his win. Yasoodd may just need the run." The seven-furlong race has drawn the maximum field of 14 with Emirates Gold carrying the hopes of Erwan Charpy, who won this race with Grantley Adams last year. The six-year-old son of Royal Applause won the National Day Cup twice and his hat trick bid was foiled by Jaasoos.

Montpellier, second in this race and the National Day Cup last year, carries the hopes of the Ali Rashid al Raihe-Royston Ffrench combination. The Montjeu gelding is in fine fettle and has three races under his belt, including his win at Jebel Ali in his last start. Satish Seemar's Escape Route, Musabah al Muhairi's Inb Battuta and Mubarak bin Shafya's newcomer Emper Holly, unbeaten in four starts, are all in with a chance to turn the solitary thoroughbred race into an exciting contest.

The support card, made up of the five races for Purebred Arabians, includes the Abu Dhabi Championship and the Abu Dhabi Colts Classic, both run over the mile distance. Rod Simpson's Forgehill Cezanne and Gillian Duffield's Haatef, a winner of his only start in the UK, head the Listed event. Forgehill Cezanne (100) is the highest rated in the field. The Dormane colt is already a winner of a Group 1 race and not been out of the first three in five starts in France.

The preceding event for the three-year-old colts foaled in the UAE looks wide open with the two Al Reef Stables entries Zain Al Reef and Najem Al Khalij under two different trainers Jaber Bittar and Saifaldin Deeb, and Simpson's Marjan Al Asayl, in that order, to be considered. The jockey Wayne Smith is booked on Ahmed al Shamsi's Barolo in the opener and Michael Kettle's filly Limeted Edition half an hour later, and both look to have decent chances of breaking their ducks. Jaci Wickham's Dhuha W'rsan looks the pick of the 11 runners in the concluding race.