Trial Winner, Abu Alabyad Among Strong Al Ketbi Contingent
Worth a very generous AED3m this year, Abu Dhabi’s 2200m Group 1 Purebred Arabian HH The President Cup has, not surprisingly, attracted a full field of 16 with Al Asayl trainer, Salem Al Ketbi, responsible for four of them.
He saddled Abu Alabyad to win the trial two weeks ago, making all under Adrie De Vries, who retains the mount and beating stable companion, Skoop, who is again in opposition.
“It was a good performance winning the trial,” said De Vries. “This is a stronger race but hopefully he will run well again.”
As he was in the trial, Skoop is the mount of Tadhg O’Shea. The Al Ketbi quartet is completed by two mares, Nymphea Du Paon and Shayel Aldhabi, to be ridden by Shane Karlsson and Pat Dobbs respectively.
Areem was in great form last season for trainer Majed Al Jahouri but has failed to live up to expectations so far this year. He was second over 1000m on his most recent start and is taking a big step up in trip. He is reunited with Ahmad Ajtebi who has ridden him to three Group 1 successes in the past.
Harry Bentley rides stable companion, Thakif, who beat Areem in the National Day Cup on his most recent outing in December when Shayel Aldhabi, Abu Alabyad and Nymphea Du Paon were also in behind.
Manan, to be ridden by Wayne Smith for Eric Lemartinel and the Erwan Charpy-trained Versac Py, the mount of Paul Hanagan are others to consider in a fascinating clash.
South African Mike De Kock provides two of the 14 runners in the 1400m Listed Thoroughbred version with Johann Strauss a fascinating contender under Pat Dobbs on his first start for the yard.
Formerly with Aidan O’Brien, he has not run since finishing fourth in the Group 1 Irish 2000 Guineas in May. A repeat of that level of form would make him the one to beat here and, only a four-year-old, he looks an exciting recruit for the yard.
James Doyle takes the ride on stable companion, Disa Leader.
The race was won last year by Nawwaar, back to defend his crown for trainer Ali Rashid al Raihe and one of six in the race for owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The owner’s first jockey, Paul Hanagan, has chosen to ride Kanaf, trained by Musabah Al Muhairi with Dane O’Neill, also retained by the owner, aboard Jawhar for Doug Watson.
Tadhg O’Shea takes the mount aboard Nawwaar.
Dhruba Selvartnam saddles two, headed by Yaa Wayl, second in this last year and fourth in the trial (behind stable companion Forjatt who will defend his crown in next week’s Jebel Ali Mile) two weeks ago.
Stable jockey, Oisin Murphy, rides with Louis Steward aboard Selvaratnam’s second contender, Ashaadd.
The Satish Seemar-trained More Aspen, the only filly in the field, only has one career victory to her name but was an excellent second in the trial, arguably her career best effort.
Rostrum, third in the trial, is also back in action with Wayne Smith riding for his main employer, Ismail Mohammed.