Arabian Day – the only such meeting in the season
21ST August, 14.00 +1 UTC
The moment that fans of thoroughbred horse racing in Poland have been anxiously looking forward to – Arabian Day – is coming. All of the Sunday races will be for Arabians, including some truly prestigious races on the agenda, headlined by the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan – European Prize. Saturday will feature mainly races for thoroughbreds, of which the Pink Pearl and Villars Stakes comparative races promise to be the most interesting.
Time again for Amwaj Al Khalediah vs. a trio of Polish derby contestants
This year’s Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan – European Prize (G3 PA) will see only six horses at the starting line, but it will be an elite group. Amwaj Al Khalediah will mark her return to the Służewiec racecourse after a year since her impressive victory in this race. The seven-year-old has run four times on foreign tracks after her success at Służewiec, where her luck has varied. In October she failed to live up to the world’s best in the Qatar Arabian World Cup at Longchamp, but three weeks later she won a G3 race in Italy. She started this year’s competitions with a rather average performance in France, but at the end of June she demonstrated her good side again in Italy. In the G2 President of UAE Cup race, she passed the marker first, but unfortunately she didn’t hold the straight line at the finish and was moved up to the third place.
She is expected to be strong amongst the favorites on Sunday. Similarly to last year, the mare will face three Polish derby winners. Then, it was Alsahr who performed best, finishing third, yet dropping nearly 10 lengths behind Amwaj. Dragon and Great Dakris performed poorly. Great Dakris has certainly a lot more in store for this season as the six-year-old shows a much better form. Dragon, however, was less convincing, but he still has great potential. Alsahr, on the other hand, will be replaced by this year’s derby winner Han Rastaban – it seems that it is he who may count in the fight for the top spots. As ridden by Szczepan Mazur, can he threaten the favorite who will be led by Tadhg O’Shea this time?
Apollo del Sol will certainly aim to improve on last year’s result (he was 5th). Bieshan, on the other hand, won a G3 race in Sweden this year so he is also a titled horse. He has not been so successful in Poland thus far but he certainly cannot be underestimated.
The 2,600 m race between three Polish-bred horses and French Arabians promises to be a very interesting rivalry!
Fast and … brave
The Al Khalediah Poland Cup (Listed PA), held over a distance of 1,600 meters, is also ranked as Pattern. This race will also feature six Arabian horses at the starting line. A year ago we watched a phenomenal battle between Rasmy Al Khalediah and Mayar Al Khalediah, resulting in a new track record of 1’45.9″. Finishing third, close to his rivals, was Frehel de Bozouls. After 12 months, the three will meet in the same race. Rasmy and Frehel seem to maintain their high form, while Mayar, who has been strongly disappointing in slightly longer races, is quite a mystery. Will he again set tough conditions for his rivals in the sprint race of Arabians?
The performance of the other three participants is also interesting. The four-year-old Gensik, who has very good acceleration and can be dangerous at the 1,600m distance, seems to be making a lot of progress. He recently scored a great style victory in a group level race, clearly beating Helfik de Bozouls. Another four-year-old, Sharm El Sheikh, is also looking impressive. The stallion proved his speed in the spring and will probably try to leverage this strength.
Ocean Al Maury destined to win?
The Arabians owned by WOW!, trained in the Czech Republic by Stepanka Myskova, have been sensational at Służewiec this year. Two great victories at the non-group level were scored by the four-year-old Zenhaf; unfortunately we won’t see him in Warsaw on Sunday. Instead, Ocean Al Maury may follow in his footsteps, as he outperformed the top three-year-olds in Polish training in his debut run for the European Prize. He gave a phenomenal finish from the last position, overtaking Salsabil II, the yearling leader so far, just before the finish line. The second clash of this pair promises to be very interesting. The solid Hilal Muscat, relatively good Djaska d’Altus, Zaman Muscat and Jabhie de Faust may find it quite difficult to get a rematch. Cornelia Fraisl is sending an interesting pair to battle. The inexperienced Storm ‘OA’ demonstrated considerable talent in his debut, but this time the bar goes much higher. Meanwhile, Kito, who has been undefeated in two starts, is the only Polish-bred Arabian in this company. Salsabel Al Khalediah’s ratings will be lower. However, we must not forget that the mare is the sister of the excellent Shadwan and Salam Al Khalediah and we will see the experienced Tadhg O’Shea in her saddle.
Sabellina, Emael Stakes and two memorials
There will be no Polish mares in the Sabellina Stakes race, in which four-year-olds face older rivals. Nonetheless, the race looks exciting as the older age groups will be represented by the brilliant Wasma Al Khalediah and the brave Hadjar and Djenah, while the three-year-olds will be represented by the brilliant Medan, the successful Athal Bint Gifara and the up-and-coming Zoi. The outcome is really hard to predict.
Another run included in the Wathba Stallions Cup series, with an additional bonus of 5,000 euros for the winner, will be held for the Emael Stakes and is exclusively for Polish-bred horses. It forecasts an interesting clash between three solid stallions, Dorian, Zalabar and Erwan, and a trio of talented mares, Cehilla, Kiki and El Nadira.
Despite the fact that the start of the Izabela Pawelec-Zawadzka Memorial will feature three-year-olds that have not had a victory yet, the stakes are extremely interesting. The same is true of the Bogdan Ziemiański Memorial for 4-year-olds and older Arabians, which will feature, among others, the strong Sjabahar ‘OA’, or Almared, third in the Derby.
More comparative races for thoroughbreds to come on Saturday
The Pink Pearl Stakes will be the highest-ranked race on Saturday. It will see talented three-year-olds Magic and Matt Machine taking on their older rivals. Magic’s advantage is his lowest weight, while Matt Machine will have the same weight on his back as last year’s derby winner Guitar Man, who has not been successful seeking last year’s form thus far, and Comin’Through, who is returning to the track after a long break. The weight relief will benefit the not bad Bat Eater and Quibou, so they should not be underestimated either.
The Villars Stakes (gr. I, 2,200m) may see the main role played by the horses that took paid places in last year’s Derby – Gryphon and Adahlen although they will bear the highest weights (60 kg each). Nevertheless, they seem to be better than the other representatives of the older yearlings including Delos, Luaithrion and So Good Malpic, enjoying a 3 kg relief. The two three-year-olds will run under very favorable weights and may be tempted to make a surprise. Good Gift’s shape, which has been improving, seems quite good and it seems he should be given a slightly better chance than the solid Thiry Time.