The Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) welcomed the exciting entries for this year’s UAE President Cup – UK Arabian Derby (Group1PA) to be run at Doncaster on Cazoo St Leger Day on Saturday 10th September. The £80,000 race over 2000m is exclusively for four-year-olds and is the last chance for all sexes of that age group to meet at Group 1PA level in Europe.
The top-rated entry comes from France in Izadi Star, trained by Elizabeth Bernard for the UAE based owner-trainer Helal Alalawi. Alawi will be hoping his colt can go one better than his Jugurtha De Monlau who was second in 2020. By Azadi, sire of the 2017 winner, Nafees, Izadi Star won Rounds 2 and 3 of the Arabian Triple Crown for Alalawi at Abu Dhabi in March, both Group3PA contests. The colt then came to within a head of winning the Group 1PA Qatar Derby at Chantilly on his European reappearance for Bernard in June.
One of two entries from Pau based Francois Rohaut is Moshrif. Khalifa bin Sheail Al Kuwari purchased the progressive colt as part of the Shadwell Arabians dispersal at Arqana last year for €185,000, heading the Horses-in-Training segment. The following day he impressed when winning France’s premier race for juvenile colts, the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Poulains (Gr1PA) at Saint-Cloud and then went on to Doha to win the Qatar Derby (Gr3PA) for three-year-olds and the Qatar Silver Sword at this year’s HH The Amir Sword Festival. A Dahess half-brother to the seven times Group 1PA winner and sire Muraaqib, who Rohaut also trained, he could be joined by another young Qatari-owned runner in Ch’ezza. Running in the colours of Abdulla bin Fahad Al Hammad Al-Attiyah, the son of AF Albahar won by a short head on his debut at Toulouse and comes from the famous Haras de Mandore black-type family of Cherifa.
From the same female line is Zenhaf, trained by Štepánka Myšková. Another AF Albahar son, he is already a series winner having broken the track record for this distance at Warsaw by nearly two seconds when winning the UAE President Cup – Central European Derby. Owned by Rafal Platek’s WOW! Stable, for whom he was a bargain Arqana purchase at €6,000, he would be the first Polish owned and the first Czech Republic trained runner in the UK’s premier event for four-year-olds.
Mont-de-Marsan based Xavier Thomas-Demeaulte won with Hattal in 2020 and this year could be represented by Eldabar and Izimir De Carrere. Edalbar was a winner of the Group 3PA Sheikh Mansoor – Prix Dormane in April, a race which has proved a significant marker for future top-level success, including at Doncaster, with both Nafees and Abbes (2021) doing the double. Though disappointing in the French Derby at Chantilly, he has since bounced back to form winning the Prix Burkeguy (LRPA) against older horses. He races in the famous colours of the family of Jules Oukai, best known in thoroughbred circles as the owner of Prix du Jockey Club winner Bikala and more recently as the co-breeder of Exotic Dancer and Chichicastenango.
Third at Chantilly was Izimir De Carrere, a brother to Hadi De Carrere, winner of the world’s most valuable Arabian race, the Obaiya Arabian Classic at the Saudi Cup meeting this year. Proven over the Derby trip when winning at Pau in December, he was fifth in the Dormane behind Edalbar, and looks to be a colt on the upgrade for his new owner Sinan Khalaf Sinan Al Harti.
Charles Gourdain is the most successful French trainer in this race since its association with Doncaster began, winning with Nafees and Rodess Du Loup (2018) and now has Al Faisal as a possible challenger. A three-time winner in Poland last year for his breeder HH Sheikh Faisal bin Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani, since arriving in Pau with Gourdain, he has won over almost a mile and quarter at La Teste. He is another horse looking to put a below par run in the French equivalent behind him.
Representing Al Shaqab Racing could be their homebred colts Aajel and Al Tammtam sired by their TM Fred Texas, who recently retired from public duties. TM Fred Texas also supplied the colts’ trainer Thomas Fourcy with his first winner of this race last year in Abbes. Al Tammtam won over 11 furlongs in April and whilst Aajel is still a maiden, he has been campaigned exclusively in Group company since his debut second in July last year, most recently finishing fifth at Chantilly, with Al Tammtam behind.
In what looks likely to be the UK’s strongest challenge for several years comes the Athbah Racing homebred pair of Ekleel Athbah and Rebal Athbah. Though neither have been tested in Group company yet, Ekleel Athbah looked a filly of some potential when readily accounting for her stablemate and dual PA Group winner Bayan Athbah at Newbury. She was just a fraction of a second outside of Bayan Athbah’s (hand-timed) track record, but still faster than the previous record set by Nashwan Al Khaleidah in 2010. Rebal Athbah caught the eye when a comfortable course and distance winner last month and is unbeaten in his three starts to date. They are trained by Phil Collington who has the best recent record of the domestic handlers having provided the third placed horse for the last two years.
Collington has also entered his homebred filly Hattie Sparks who is yet to see a racecourse. However, he trained her brother Izenterisky to win on his debut and also achieved a third place in this race with the unraced Loolwa in 2020. Another homebred representing the UK is the Peter Hammerlsey trained maiden, the once raced Al-Hatab. His would be a fairytale victory, with his breeder Julie Kelway (who races him in partnership with Hammersley) choosing his sire Tabarak after watching the horse win another Group 1PA decisively at the Doncaster St Leger meeting in 2013.
Since the UAE Presidents Cup resumed its’ sponsorship of the UK Arabian Derby at Doncaster in 2016, the mile and a quarter race has been won by some of the best up and coming Arabians in the world. The list of winners includes four winners of the Qatar French Arabian Derby, and four winners have gone on to continued Group 1PA success.
Genny Haynes, ARO Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted with the quality of the entries for this race at time when there is a lack of four-year-old Arabians across Europe, not just in the UK. Whilst we expect to see proven Group winners like Izadi Star, Moshrif and our own highest rated horse, Ekleel Athbah entered, we are absolutely thrilled to attract a horse like Zenhaf. His entry shows the positive effect the UAE President Cup series is having on Arabian racing, and we very much hope he will be here in September to defend his good record in the series.”
She continued: “ARO continues to be extremely grateful to the UAE President Cup Series and to everyone at Doncaster racecourse for their support of our feature race for four-year-olds. In addition, we thank the British Horseracing Authority for their assistance with our racing, particularly with our international runners in our black-type races.”