x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Westfalia could run Sbor ragged in battle of sexes

The President of the UAE Cup for purebred Arabians moves from Ascot to Moscow today for the third leg of the race series.

The President of the UAE Cup for purebred Arabians moves from Ascot to Moscow today for the third leg of the race series. Now in its 15th anniversary year, the President of the UAE Cup made its mark on the UK racing establishment by becoming the first Arabian race to be staged at Ascot, one of England's most renowned race tracks, in July. Thirty-thousand people watched a contest won by Saudi Arabia's Prince Khalid bin Sultan al Saud's Nayef al Khalidiah under Christophe Lemaire.

However, the series now returns to Russian territory, where Arabian races have a long and successful history in eastern Europe. Despite no scheduled Middle East runners this weekend, the region will be represented by a Emirates Equestrian Federation contingent, including the race sponsors' general secretary, Talib al Muhairi. Seven will take to the starting gate for the Group One Moscow Derby's mile-and-a-half challenge for four-year-olds.

The 2008 winner, Pays, and second placed Wambat do not start, leaving the way clear for a new champion. A pair of runners from the Stavropolskiy Stables - Sbor and Ganibal - are likely contenders. The only mare in the race, Terskiy Stables' Westfalia, ridden by SA Khatkov, will be looking to make the most of her two kilo advantage over the boys, who all carry 58kg. After winning both his starts this year, Pickup, with DT Avidzba at the reins, is another favourite; Burger, Gagat and Bagrein complete the field.

Pays does make an appearance in the Abu Dhabi Stakes - an earlier race for three-year-olds and older over eight furlongs. The race has attracted a field of nine runners, including the French runner, Karmel de Faust, who has won seven times in 10 starts. Two Sayapin-trained runners, Drager - also ridden by Avidzba - is the field's "veteran", while Courier, with four wins in 11 starts, is an outside bet.

Magistrat, making his debut for trainer MA Kappushev, as well as Patrick, Pays, Jabara, Markitan, and another French bred runner, Kabara complete the Abu Dhabi Stakes bill. Following its Russian sojourn, the President of the UAE Cup series - held under the instructions of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi - stops off for its fourth and final leg in Germany's Baden Baden in October.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Festival of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed for Arabian flat horse racing moves to Frankfurt, Germany tomorrow, for the third in a four-race series aiming to broaden the popularity of Arab racing in Europe. With race meets having already taken place in Holland and France, Germany is the third stop for the festival before it heads back to Paris later this month. The series has featured horses from Sheikh Mansour's stables, including the Arabian colt, Rayef who finished second at the Hippodrome de Bequest in La Teste de Buch, France, last month.

The Sheikh's three-year-old colt, Shayae, is favourite to clinch a win in tomorrow's 1,600m Zayed the First Arabian Cup. "One of the aims of the Festival is to encourage breeders and owners of Arabian horses in Europe," said Festival director Lara Sawaya. "We want to encourage further involvement in flat racing for Arabian horses." @Email:sports@thenational.ae To read about Goodwood Cup runner-up Mourilyan's race at Newbury today visit www.thenational.ae/sport