Dubai: Emirati handler Ali Rashid Al Raihie bids to become the first UAE-based handler to saddle the winner of the $1million (Dh3.67 million) Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint since the five-furlong dash was added to the Dubai World Cup night seven years ago.
Doug Watson and Musabah Al Muhairi have won this race previously with Mutamarres (2008) and Instant Recall (2008) whee it was a key fixture of the Dubai World Cup Carnival (formerly Dubai International Racing Carnival).
Initially run over 1200 metres, the race was shortened to 1000 meter in 2011.
Former UAE champion handler Al Raihe, who trains out of the Grandstand Stables that overlook the iconic Meydan Racecourse, sends out the exciting Ertijaal, winner of both his starts this season and who is unbeaten in his last four.
Both of his winshave been over today’s course and distance and Al Raihe, said: “We have always thought he was very good and he has shown that this year.”
Paul Hanagan, retained rider to Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, opted to ride Ertijaal ahead of two other Shaikh Hamdan-owned runners, Muthmir and Fityaan.
“He has done absolutely nothing wrong and is going to be thereabouts on Saturday,” said Hanagan who bids to replicate Richard Hills’ feat on Mutamarres.
Dane O’Neill, Shaikh Hamdan’s second jockey, partners Muthmir, trained in the UK by William Haggas.
“He ran very well the last time and this is the obvious early season target. He seems in great order and should run a big race,” said the former Derby winning handler.
Godolphin won the inaugural running of the race in 2007 with Great Britian, and Charlie Appleby hopes to follow-up on that achievement with Jungle Cat, who was just nosed out by surprise winner Fityaan on Super Saturday, March 5.
“It was a huge performance and I thought we were the winner a furlong from home. Sole Power came with his usual late dash and Fityaan has half-mugged us on the line,” said Appleby
“Jungle Cat has backed up his first run of the year and we can look forward to rolling the dice again on Saturday night.”
The only Australian representative at Saturday’s big-race meeting is Buffering, who is saddled by leading Brisbane handler Rob Heathcote.
“He is not a young horse but, now aged eight, he is really showing just how good he is. He has mixed it with the best of them over the years and it is just brilliant he has brought us to Dubai. He should run a massive race,” said Heathcote. of his veteran sprinter, who boasts a fine record of 13 wins from 44 starts.
“It’s fantastic to be here, and we expect him to run a big race.
Hong Kong powerhouse John Moore is back at Meydan with Not Listenin’tome.
“I won the Golden Shaheen two years ago with Sterling City but I’d say this horse is in even better condition,” the veteran Australian-born handler said.
“He looks terrific, he has got that golden sheen to his coat. Kelvin, his work rider, said he felt 200 per cent in his jump-out on the turf this morning.”
Hong Kong are also represented by Peniaphobia, a former Richard Fahey-trained sprinter who now races out of Tony Cruz’s stable.
“He’s done everything very well in Hong Kong and he’s very fast. He’s very easy to place and likes to come from behind,” said Cruz.