Feature Story



By Duane Fonseca

The Dubai World Cup is done, but a bit of intrigue remains with the UAE Trainers’ Championship headed for a nervy climax with the top three on the leaderboard Doug Watson, Bhupat Seemar and Ernst Oertel within five wins of each other. With Abu Dhabi set to host the first of this week’s two meetings the dynamics could change before the first of seven races gets underway at Al Ain.

Watson and Seemar, the defending champion, have just two races to further bolster their respective tallies of 39 and 37 winners, while Oertel, whose sole focus is on Purebred Arabians, has a lot more time in which to catch the pair as he prepares for the weekend a further three adrift of the latter and a score of 34.

After a brief overview of how things stand at the moment, it’s time to take a look at the septet of races that weighs heavily in favour of Purebred Arabians. Six are meant for the breed, while the only Thoroughbred contest on the card is a 1400m handicap in which the joint top rating of 75 is shared by Rashed Bouresly’s Imprison, Seemar trained Waqet and Al Hadeer, who is trained by John Hyde for Shadwell.

Watson’s course and distance (C&D) winner Far Sky is not far behind at 74 and might have a real chance here as he steps into the gates having run out of gas in slightly longer events. The drop in trip should suit the 6yo Stay Thirsty gelding, who was last seen finishing a distant eighth in an 1800m handicap at Jebel Ali.


On the other hand, Imprison broke free of the shackles to win a 1200m sprint at Jebel Ali on his last start for what was only his third career success in numerous attempts. The 10yo Sea The Stars gelding has run twice at Al Ain only claiming minor money and this could really be his chance to bow out on a high.

Waqet finished a narrow second on his last start here over 1600m two weeks ago and will be expected to improve, while Hyde will be hoping Al Hadeer can carry forward the momentum that saw him nail a 1000m sprint here three weeks earlier. The feature event of the evening is the Al Ain Sprint, a Prestige event for Purebred  Arabians that will be contested over a 1000m trip.

In it, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami’s Heros De Lagarde looks the one to beat with recent Dubai Kahayla Classic winning trainer Majed Al Jahoori fields Maahir, who finished a close second in the Group 3 Al Ruwais at Abu Dhabi in early February, and Leena, big winner of a C&D event in November 2021 and winner of the 1200m Big Easy Arabian Sprint Championship at Meydan in January. AF Majalis for Oertel should complete the list of those most eligible for the prize, but worrying is the fact the 7yo AF Albahar entire has never won a dirt event with Abu Dhabi’s turf clearly his surface of choice.

Chances of the Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda homebred might have further been slimmed down by the fact his last start yielded a well beaten fifth behind Marmara XM, a Mohammed Daggash trainee, and thrice a C&D winner, who is also part of the field.

This week’s Wathba Stallions Cup for Private Owners race at Al Ain is a 1400m handicap, with yet another handicap over 2000m for 4yo and older horses also pencilled into the programme.Three maiden events are also on the agenda and include a 1000m sprint for UAE bred horses, one over 2000m for 4yo and older runners and a 1600m event for fillies and mares.