x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Simpson gets ready for action

They'll be under starters orders for the new UAE racing season at Jebel Ali on November 6, and the trainer Rod Simpson, for one, can't wait.

DUBAI // They'll be under starters orders for the new UAE racing season at Jebel Ali on November 6, and the trainer Rod Simpson, for one, can't wait. "My stable will be action stations on that day," said the trainer who has enjoyed a successful English campaign with Fryvolous, the winner of the Dubai Kahayla Classic and Abu Dhabi International Stakes who is owned by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

"We'll have as many horses starting that weekend as possible. We don't wait in the starting blocks when we could be out running." For now Simpson is enjoying the lull before the storm as he finalises details of new runners at his Al Asayl Stables in Abu Dhabi. The landmark season kicks off with a triple header of fixtures at Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah on November 6, 7 and 8 respectively with the long-awaited Meydan opening on January 28.

"We have always had a strong Arabian string," said Simpson. "But we are looking to add to our thoroughbreds. It's a very big, important season and we want to be represented well. "A lot of the horses we will not be shipping over for a while as they have campaigns in Europe in September and October, but we should have a strong showing for the early season." One horse Simpson is looking forward to welcoming back is Balthazaar's Gift, owned by Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa. The sprinter ran unplaced in the Group One Dubai Golden Shaheen after being held up at the start and may not have enjoyed the Nad Al Sheba dirt.

Like many handlers, Simpson transferred the son of Xaar to England to stay in work and avoid the worst of the desert summer. Placed with the Lambourn trainer, Clive Cox, the six-year-old took to English turf, finishing third in a Group Three race at Newmarket and second to the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid-owned and Marcus Tregoning-trained Finjaan in the Group Two Betfair Cup at Glorious Goodwood. "I've only lent him to Mr Cox," clarified Simpson yesterday. "He's coming back to Dubai and we are really looking forward to it because for a sprinter he's not got many miles on the clock. He just went a bit wrong at the end of last season but he was already shaping up well and we are looking forward to seeing what he can do at Meydan."

Simpson is also excited about a new addition to his Arabian string. "One of our real highlights this season could be a full brother to Fryvolous called Swyft," said Simpson. "He's three and not as much to look at as his brother, but he's a very interesting prospect and we would be looking at him as a UAE Triple Crown contender." Back in England, Godolphin, who also have a formidable string lined up for the UAE season, are set to give the injury-hit Dubai Duty Free winner, Gladiatorus, the chance to redeem himself after his disappointing Royal Ascot form.

The manager Simon Crisford expects the colt to be ready for either the Prix Jacques le Marois, in France, on August 16 or the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp on September 6. Three-year-old Kite Wood is likely to run in Saturday's Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury while Dubai-bound Long Lashes will stop off for a tilt at Ireland's Moyglare Stud Stakes on August 30. Urban Poet, third in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood when racing for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, has been taken back into the Godolphin fold.

stregoning@thenational.ae