x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The final curtain

The Nad Al Sheba racecourse hopes to bow out in style with a six-race card before it makes way for the Dh4.6bn Meyden complex.

Eric Lemartinel, who saddled Mizzna to victory in the Dubai World Cup's Kahayla Classic, above, is hopeful of another big season on the UAE tracks.
Eric Lemartinel, who saddled Mizzna to victory in the Dubai World Cup's Kahayla Classic, above, is hopeful of another big season on the UAE tracks.

DUBAI // Nad Al Sheba, the headquarters for thoroughbred racing in the Emirates since from its formative years, begins its final journey tonight with a six-race card before making way to the Dh4.6 billion Meydan complex next season. The first of the 46-race meetings across the three courses in the country kicks off with a novice race for Purebred Arabians in which the Abu Dhabi-based trainer Eric Lemartinel's Murawih looks the pick. The five-year-old son of sire D'Albret finished behind Pamela Du Clos almost a year ago and the Frenchman is confident of reversing the placing in the rematch.

"Murawih has improved over the summer and should be able to pick up a race of this kind," said Lemartinel, who saddled 15 winners including the Dubai World Cup's Arabian showpiece - the Kahayla Classic - with Mizzna, in his first full season last year. The thoroughbred races are the more competitive on the card and Dhruba Selvaratnam has an excellent chance of picking up an early double with Mannjal and Al Rajih.

The two-times champion trainer quietly fancies the gelded son of Storm Cat in the handicap rated 75-95 run over 1,500 metres and expects a good showing from Al Rajih in the third race. Mannjal has won three of his last four starts and the trainer believes he is the best of his entries in tonight's card. Selvaratnam said: "He has been working well and I expect him to run well. "The one concern is that all his wins have come on faster ground at Jebel Ali."

Al Rajih has a similar task and the trainer added: "He is a smooth moving horse and again we have to see how he handles the track. They have both fared well towards the end of last season and should be right up there for the prize." Selvaratnam's other entries are Chun Tosaigh (2nd race) and Ebn Reem (4th), and they have both arrived from the UK after injuries. The trainer was more hopeful than confident of the pair.

He added: "They have been off the track for more than 18 months. I would be very pleased to see them run well in their first outings." Selvaratnam has booked the UAE's leading apprentice Ahmad Ajtebi for all his first choice horses and expects the UK's leading apprentice William Buick to join him from next week. Ali Rashid al Raihe's Impenetrable looks hard to beat after a debut fifth behind Kept Faith at Jebel Ali. The former Godolphin inmate will be fancied to getthe better of Chun Tosaigh and Satish Seemar's newcomer Blues Ballad. In the next race Al Rajih gets the vote over champion trainer Doug Watson's Tri Another Cat and Africanus trained by Musabah al Muhairi.

Power Politics can see off Ebn Reem, Lord Ego and Montpellier in the fourth race and Mannjal will have most to fear from Muzdaher and Always Emirates. apassela@thenational.ae