Feature Story



By Duane Fonseca - 

Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club hosting two Thoroughbred events on the same card is like a blue moon event, but then when a title race goes down to the wire the way this year’s UAE Trainers’ Championship has gone, the more the intrigue the better. There will be plenty of nerves. But that’s not for us to deal with. The two battling stables and their protagonist supremos can handle that. We might as well just sit back and enjoy the drama that is likely to unfold during this final weekend of the 2023/24 campaign to see who among Bhupat Seemar and Michael Costa will be crowned king among the trainers. The pair are locked at 36 winners apiece, a pair of Group Ones on Dubai World Cup night, including the feature Dubai World Cup, helping Seemar restore parity with his Australian counterpart and with just the two Thoroughbred contests of Abu Dhabi and a third event for the type at Al Ain left, the verdict could either come Thursday or Friday.

And it is to that backdrop, hereafter plays, starting with Abu Dhabi, which hosts a seven race card, that includes five other Purebred Arabian contests. The highlight of the final race evening in the UAE capital is the 2200m Listed Abu Dhabi Championship that features a field of top divisional acts vying for the honours and the lion’s share of the AED380,000 purse. Seemar has three running, including Western Writer, winner of two of his three starts here, albeit over the shorter 1400m and 1600m circuits. A distant 13th behind stablemate and recent Dubai World Cup champ Laurel River on his only start on dirt in the G3 Burj Nahaar on Emirates Super Saturday, the five-yearold Shamardal gelding should welcome the return to turf after putting in a few battling performances on Meydan’s turf track in the G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes and the G2 Zabeel Mile. Western Writer steps into the stalls alongside King Ottoman and Franz Strauss second and third respectively in the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes, the former taking ninth in the aforementioned Burj Nahaar, when out prior to racing at Jebel Ali. Costa-trained Alhzeem, fourth in the Jebel Ali Stakes, will be joined by teammate Keffaaf, last seen winning a course and distance (C&D) handicap four weeks ago.

After two improved performances behind Siskany, Ahmed Al Shemaili’s New Comedy could have something special waiting to be served. The other Thoroughbred event on the card is a 0-70 handicap over 1400m, in which Seemar has a live hope in Fall Of Rome, the valiant runner-up of a 1600m contest here in January. The Frankel gelding’s form carried forward for his next outing on the gruelling Jebel Ali surface too, when again second, which could really do him a favour in this field where stable companion Melicertes and Alajdl, trained by Doug Watson, are the only others seemingly with a hope in this, the latter for his seventh in a C&D three weeks ago.

The pick of the events on the Purebred Arabian side of things is the G3 Arabian Triple Crown R3 (2200m), where the field will be looking to stop Ahmed Al Balushi’s RB Yas Man, winner of the second leg under Amur Al Rasbi, who keeps the ride. The four-year-old Sir Bani Yas colt might have been favourite to win the all three legs, but things did not go according to plan during the opening leg over 1600m with horse and rider, (Al Rasbi) not in sync. However, with the pair in agreement during the second leg, also over 2200m, winning turned out to be a rather straightforward application of ability. As such, as much will be expected from the pair, with numerous defeated then reopposing, including first leg winner and Diyaah, who turned up as the runner-up and third-placed Kanaille De Faust. The card is supplemented by the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Gold Cup, a Prestige 1600m run for UAE bred horses, a 1600m maiden and two further handicaps: (0-85) for locally bred runners and a 0-90 fillies and mares event.