Derbaas: has not won since scoring in Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort in 2011PICTURE: Andrew Watkins / DRC
Derbaas heads strong field for Listed contest
Preview: UAE, Sunday 3.30pm (UK)
Abu Dhabi: National Day Cup prep (3yo+ conditions) 1m, turf
THE only thoroughbred race on Sunday's Abu Dhabi card is a prep for the Listed National Day Cup (December 9) and has attracted a quality field of 11, headed by Derbaas (Ali Rashid al Raihe/Dane O'Neill), winner of the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort in February 2011.
The six-year-old has not won in nine starts since but has been highly tried and this appears his easiest opportunity for a long time.
Al Raihe said: "He has been working well and this is a drop in class for him but the main concern is perhaps that he has not raced right-handed for us before."
O'Neill rides Derbaas for his main employer Sheikh Hamdan who is responsible for four other runners, including Marching Time (Doug Watson/Pat Cosgrave) who won this race 12 months ago.
Owner and trainer also combine with Finjaan (Pat Dobbs) and Watson said: "It was a relief to win with Marching Time last year as he had been unlucky on several occasions and deserved that victory but it is probably a stronger race this year and Finjaan looks our main hope in a very open contest."
The owner's other two runners are Yaseer (Erwan Charpy/Tadhg O'Shea) and Mutheeb (Musabah Al Muhairi/Gerald Avranche) and neither can be ruled out in a strong renewal.
Toolain (Dhruba Selvaratnam/James Doyle) will be having only his fourth local start and will relish returning to turf for the first time in the UAE. Selvaratnam said: "He is a nice horse but he might just need this first run back."
Florentino (Marc Monaghan) and Royal Revival (Richard Mullen) both have their first starts for Satish Seemar having left Godolphin.