Being contested over 1200m for the first time, a 200m increase on its previous distance, the Group 1 US$1m Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments has attracted a field of 12 with much attention sure to be focused on Ertijaal (IRE).
Owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, Ertijaal was second in the race last year, denied close home by Buffering from Australia.
That remains his one Meydan defeat from his six most recent visits, a run dating back to February 2015 when he established the 1200m turf track record.
His four subsequent Meydan victories have all been over 1000m but his jockey, Jim Crowley, does not see that as an issue.
“He has won over 1400m, both in England and Abu Dhabi,” said Crowley. “He was still galloping strongly at the line on his latest 1000m victory and I do not see the extra 200m being any problem, but it is a stronger race.”
That most recent 1000m victory, in February’s Group 3 Meydan Sprint, was achieved at the main expense of Godolphin’s Jungle Cat (IRE), subsequently successful in the 1200m Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint.
Trained by Charlie Appleby and fourth in the Al Quoz Sprint last year, Jungle Cat was chased home three weeks ago by stable companion Baccarat (IRE) who defeated him in a handicap over the same course and distance in January.
“The 1200m suits both my runners ideally and, hopefully, more so than Ertijaal,” said Appleby. “We thought Jungle Cat was our best chance on Super Saturday as he needed the run more when beaten by Baccarat earlier this year. There should be little between them on Saturday with Ertijaal and Limato heading the dangers.”
A dual Group 1 winner in Europe last year, the Henry Candy-trained Limato (IRE) will relish the likely quick ground and galloping straight track. He is a first UAE runner for Candy but looks the ideal type for this challenge and will be ridden by Harry Bentley, in the saddle for both his big wins last season.
“His owner, Paul Jacobs, and I watched him on the track on Wednesday and when he worked earlier in the week and he looks in great shape, said Bentley.
“The trainer and his staff are very happy with him and he will do his final sharp piece of work on Thursday. He looks to have an awful lot in his favour and we are all really looking forward to Saturday.”
Candy is not the only handler having his first local runner in the race and is joined by John Size who brings Amazing Kids (NZ) from Hong Kong and has booked the services of Joao Moreira, who is riding on the crest of a wave.
“I only arrived on Tuesday but the team with him have been very happy,” said Size. “We think the straight track will suit him and he has some very good form at home.”
French challenger, The Right Man (GB), was a good third in the aforementioned Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, behind the Godolphin duo, on Super Saturday. He looked in need of that run and could be an outsider to keep a close eye on.”
Source: Dubai Racing Club