It is Abu Dhabi’s biggest Purebred Arabian race of the season on Sunday evening with the 2,200m Dh1 million HH The President’s Cup the undoubted highlight on the six-race card.
First run in 1993, its honour roll of winners includes Purebred Arabian legends Alanudd (formerly Unchainedd Melody – five times), Ezil (twice) and Madjani (twice) and the three most recent winners, Nieshan, Seraphin du Paon and Jarnin are back to try and win it again.
The Eric Lemartinel-trained Nieshan won the race last year with regular jockey, Gerald Avranche in the saddle and the pair won the 1,600m National Day Cup prep on their seasonal return before chasing home Areem in the Group 1 National Day Cup itself.
Avranche said: “He has been a great horse for us all in recent years and should hopefully run his usual solid race. Things did not go smoothly in the prep last time and we expect a big run.”
Nieshan was only fourth in that course and distance prep behind Seraphin Du Paon who chased him home in this race last year, having won it himself in 2011 when Nieshan was third.
Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea takes the ride for Ernst Oertel who has his string in great form and O’Shea said: “This has been his main target for the early part of the season with another crack at the Kahayla Classic he won in 2011 the end of season plan.
“He won the prep well and we have to be hopeful.”
Jarnin won this in 2010 when trained by Saifaldin Deeb but was only eighth in 2011 and sixth last year.
He is now trained by Majed Al Jahouri who has already saddled Areem to win both the National Day Cup and opening round of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan.
Kieren Fallon rides Jarnin, one of three in the race for the trainer and one of five owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is also well represented with three runners and his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan rides Versac PY, winner of last year’s Group 1 Emirates Championship over the same course and distance as HH The President’s Cup.
Third behind Seraphin Du Paon in the prep on his only start to date this season, he is trained by Erwan Charpy who explained: “He had a busy season last year when he improved dramatically and HH The President’s Cup has always been the aim before the Emirates Championship and one or two races at Meydan. He ran well in the prep and is in good form. We are looking forward to running him.”
The same owner’s Tzar Du Paon, trained by Gill Duffield, showed little on his local debut at Meydan but that was over 1,600m on the all-weather and he should relish this step up in trip and return to turf. He is a year younger half-brother to Seraphin Du Paon and was a Group 2 winner in Europe as recently as September when ridden by Tadhg O’Shea. Ted Durcan takes over in the saddle.
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