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Wednesday, December 31, 2003


Mazin Al Kurdi's Cherry Pickings can follow on from his recent win by taking the feature race at Nad Al Sheba's New Year meeting on Thursday. The whole card is sponsored by Keeneland, the world's leading Thoroughbred sales company and premier racing venue, who are sponsoring at Nad Al Sheba for a record tenth consecutive year.

Cherry Pickings faces six challengers in the Keeneland, a Thoroughbred Handicap over 1,500 metres. The seven-year-old, who will be partnered by Ted Durcan, ran on well last time out to a comfortable course and distance win. The gelding has been a model of consistency this season
and has not been out of the top two in his three outings.

Saudi-based trainer Jerry Barton has a good chance of upsetting the favourite with the Jose Beitia-ridden Fardaan, a consistent performer in Saudi Arabia and with a eye on the Dubai International Racing Carnival. The six-year-old was a close second over 2,000 metres in October, but an easy 1,600 metre winner in September, beating the field by over 12 lengths.

Others to note in the race are Lapwing from the Christian Wroe stable and the powerful Doug Watson and Willie Supple combination, who team up with the well bred Muthaaber.

Watson and Supple should already have a winner under their belt with Al Awal, who is likely to take the evening's opener, the Woodford Purebred Arabian Handicap over 2,000 metres. The son of Bengali d'Albret was a runner-up here in early December and can certainly come on for that run.

Gill Duffield, looking for her fifth win of the season, can go close with Al Kesbe, under Lukas Bester. Al Kesbe had good form in the UK but was slightly disappointing on his UAE debut at Abu Dhabi, but he will enjoy the Nad Al Sheba dirt, his proven surface.

Agrab Al Nas, Paul Hanagan up, has definite place claims, as does the mount of Brett Doyle, Sarrab, a winner at Abu Dhabi over 1,600 metres 11 days ago.

Michael Kettle has a great chance of taking the second race, the Lexington Thoroughbred Maiden, with the Alzao four-year-old Nissr Al Jazira, a length and a bit second over today's trip of 2,000 metres at Sharjah in early December. Robert Burke takes the ride and was in the saddle for Nissr Al Jazira's last outing at Nad Al Sheba when third to Pfennig.

Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who enjoyed a double at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, can go close with Vanishing Act, two lengths fourth on his career debut here in November. Also keep an eye on Satish Seemar's Silver Medal, who has every chance of going close.

Al Kurdi's Mr Magistrate should take the Kentucky Thoroughbred Handicap over 1,300 metres, following a close third to Outlaw over 1,200 metres in early December. Durcan takes the ride on the Danewin gelding, who has yet to finish outside the top two in the new season.

Future Minister, from the Watson stable, is a horse with form and could go close if at his best, other dangers include Supple's mount Rezif and the Gary Hind-partnered My Pleasure.

Opportunist, who has done nothing wrong this season, has the credentials to win the fourth race, the 2,000 metre Fayette Handicap. The Supple-ridden and Watson-trained five-year-old is already a course and distance winner in mid-November, he stayed on well last time but lost out to Deodatus. There should be little to stand in the way of Opportunist on Thursday.

Watch for Paddy Rudkin's Litigado, a course and distance winner in this class on his most recent outing, he should be there at the finish, as should Mullen's-mount Dubai Vision, another recent course and distance winner.

Allan Smith's Mr Spa should take the last race, the Jessamine Thoroughbred Handicap over 1,600 metres, with Kieren Fallon in the saddle, he was disappointing in his last run at Abu Dhabi, but he was a close runner-up in his previous run here over this trip.

Dangers will come from Al Kurdi's Fight and Ocean Star, a recent easy winner at Jebel Ali.



Eau Royal, trained by the in-form Gill Duffield, should win the HH The President Cup Prep over 2,200 metres at Abu Dhabi on Sunday evening.

The five-year-old son of Djel Bon, who will be ridden by Paul Hanagan, is making his seasonal debut in the Emirates following a successful season in Europe including a second in the Group One President of the UAE International Challenge Derby at Newmarket in July. Eau Royal finished runner-up in his most recent start over Sunday's trip at Deauville.

Last season he was a course and distance winner when landing the third leg of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Triple Crown in March and followed up by winning the UAE Arabian Derby at Nad Al Sheba on April 10th.

Willie Supple's mount, the Erwan Charpy-trained Daffaq could present a challenge to Eau Royal, following a second place finish over the course and distance in early December. Mazin Al Kurdi's Royal Epic is another potential rival for the win and finished half length third behind Daffaq last time.

The evening should kick off with a win for Satish Seemar's Flying Springbok in the New Year Handicap over 2,200 metres. Daragh O'Donohoe is aboard the son of Thunder Gulch, who was fifth behind the impressive Aramram at Jebel Ali.

Good Again, from the Al Kurdi stable, won in style at Sharjah under Ted Durcan, the former UAE champion jockey teams up with the gelding again on Sunday. Paddy Rudkin's Tell Them All is another who has the form to go close in this company.

Malika du Bac, the mount of Gary Hind, looks the pick for the second race, the Al Taweelah Purebred Arabian Maiden over 1,300 metres. Malika du Bac was a disappointing sixth on her most recent Abu Dhabi outing but has good placed form prior to that, she should win if up to her best.

James Frazier's Denyai was a two length second to Jalaab here over 1,400 metres a week ago when making her racecourse debut, she can go close if holding her form.

Enta Omri, with Brett Doyle up, can take the 1,400 metre Sas Sweihan Handicap for Purebred Arabian's, after his second place at Sharjah on December 5th. Likely dangers will be Doug Watson's Murhib and the Jaber Bittar-trained AF Yasater, the mount of Seamus O'Gorman.

O'Gorman can follow up with a win in the fourth race the Al Sweihan Purebred Arabian Handicap for UAE breds over 1,400 metres with the Bittar-trained Muaned, third last time out in December over this course and distance. The five-year-old is a consistent sort who enjoys this

Challenges will come from his stable mate and Lukas Bester-partnered Mudarik, a winner over shorter last season, and Kasser, the mount of Ryan Moore.

Doyle could be in for another winner with the well bred Badran, a short head winner here over further two weeks ago, his previous win was a short head runner up over 1,200 metres. He may not have it all his own way and could be battling with Bittar's Muwasell under Durcan and Al
Raihe's Brave Heart.

The final race, the Al Ajban Purebred Arabian Maiden, could give trainer Gerald Oxley his first win of the season with Sugarbear MRV, under Hind. He was placed last time out and should not find too much in his way on Sunday. Katleen du Causse under Hanagan has place claims as does Al Misk, the mount of Michael Hussey.

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