UAE - After a spectacular opening night’s racing last week, Meydan Racecourse will be looking to maintain the momentum when it stages another competitive seven-race card on Friday.
The iconic track’s second fixture of the 2022-2023 season features the first major Purebred Arabian contest of the campaign — the Group 2 Bani Yas sponsored by Dubai Islands, a race that takes its title from one of the most highly regarded tribes of Southern Arabia.
Being positioned at the start of the season, the 1,4000 metre contest takes on added significance as it is an early pointer to the available talent in the rapidly developing Arabian ranks.
Ever since its inception, the Bani Yas has been won by high-quality Arabians including dual scorer ES Ajeeb , RB Rich Lyke Me, and Jayda Al Boraq most recently.
The Bani Yas kicks off a series of interesting Arabian contests that build towards the prestigious Dubai Kahayla Classic (PA G1), the season highlight which opens the $30.5 million Dubai World Cup card in March next Year.
Meanwhile, record 10-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea looks set for a bumper night at Meydan given his promising book of rides across the card.
Here are O’Shea’s 5 top horses to watch out for on Friday.
A homebred by multiple-time champion owner Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, AF Alajaj is best remembered for his 4 ½ length victory in the 1600m Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah over this course in February.
In his subsequent start in the Dubai Kahayla Classic, he finished 11th behind Qatari-owned American star First Class.
Although he has to concede weight to his 13 rivals AF Alajaj has the class to overcome the penalty and allow his trainer Ernst Oertel to map out an ambitious program for him.
Twelve juveniles make their career debut in this sprint dedicated to the two-year-old generation.
Prepared by champion trainer Bhupat Seemar, Bijjlee is O’Shea’s second promising ride of the evening. A well-bred son of War Front who is by the legendary stallion Danzig, he comes into the contest having shown good progress over the summer.
O’Shea will ride him positively on a surface that he knows so well having ridden numerous winners here.
O’Shea has another peach of a ride in this maiden when he gets the leg-up on a well-bred son of Dubai World Cup winner Curlin, who will be visiting the racecourse for only the second time.
On his debut at Belmont Park when in the care of four-time Eclipse Award-winning handler Chad Brown, Green Jacket finished a noteworthy fourth.
Now based at Seemar’s Zabeel Stables, it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first outing in over 400 days.
A former Meydan winner is the champion’s next exciting ride. A five-year-old son of Darley stallion Hard Spun, who was a runner-up in the 2008 Kentucky Derby (G1) Ranaan makes his seasonal debut having last been seen in a handicap at Jebel Ali Racecourse in March.
He was a reasonably consistent performer last season where he also posted a pair of second-place finishes on this track.
Seemar has him in good order and although this looks like an open contest, is expected to run well.
Twelfthoofneverland continues O’Shea’s smashing book of rides and runs with a big chance in this interesting middle-distance contest.
A seasoned campaigner who posted two wins at Aqueduct in America in his formative years, he has hit the board on three occasions at Meydan, most recently when delivering a gutsy performance to deny Woodditton in a handicap at Meydan last season.
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