Qatar International Derby Festival: On Friday and Saturday at QREC Al Rayyan Park – Fifteen international runners vie for coveted titles

Fifteen horses will be shipping to run in the two-day Qatar International Derby Festival, which takes place at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha on Friday, 20 December and Saturday 21 December.

The fields for the four International races can be found by clicking here for the Al Rayyan Stakes on 20 December and clicking here for the three Derby races on Saturday, 21 December.

Friday’s US100,000 Al Rayyan Stakes over 1400 metres (7 furlongs) on turf has attracted six International 2YOs. This race has been won for the last two years by British raiders Concierge (2018) and Tip Two Win (2017). The highest rated runner is listed winner Happy Bere, trained by Antoine De Watrigant and he will be ridden by Olivier Peslier. Two of the British raiders, Maystar (Archie Watson) and Hamish Macbeth (Hugo Palmer/James Doyle) were only separated by a neck when 2nd and 3rd in a valuable sales race at The Curragh in September. Maystar has subsequently been gelded and recently won a good race at Wolverhampton under Hollie Doyle who will ride him again in Doha. Hollie has ridden 109 winners this season, a record number for a female jockey in Britain.

Bangkok has been drawn 1 in a field of 16 runners for the US$500,000 Qatar Derby, run over 2000 metres (10 furlongs) on Saturday, 21 December. Owned by Thailand’s King Power Racing and trained in England by Andrew Balding, Bangkok will be ridden by Sylvestre de Sousa who will be flying in from Hong Kong for the ride. Bangkok has not raced since finishing a neck second in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes over nine furlongs at York in August. He had earlier chased home Japan in the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and won the Group 3 Classic Trial at Sandown in April.

Other leading overseas contenders are, from France, Mauricio Delcher’s Pedro Cara (to be ridden by Tony Piccone), touched off in the Jockey Club Derby in New York on his latest start and from Germany, Henk Grewe’s Say Good Buy (to be ridden by Andrasch Starke), winner of a Group 3 at Baden-Baden last month.

The home team is led by two recent purchases from Europe: the Group 3 Prix Paul de Moussac third, Admiral Rous, now trained by Gassim Ghazali and the mount of Harry Bentley and Old Glory (Ronan Thomas), fourth in the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes, who has just joined the stable of Hadi Al Ramzani.

Al Rayyan Racecourse stages three different Derbies on 21 December � the other two are both restricted to purebred Arabians. The most valuable is the four-year-old version, which boasts prize money of US$150,000 (Pound 117,188) and is run over a mile and a quarter (2000 metres) while the three-year-old Qatar Derby, over a mile (1600 metres), is worth US100,000 (Pound 78,125).

French trainer Thomas Fourcy won both races 12 months ago and again holds a strong hand, particularly in the three-year-old version where he relies upon his unbeaten dual Group 1 winner, Lady Princess. Fourcy also has Shalaa engaged in the four-year-old Derby. Both horses will be ridden by Julien Auge.

Trainer Alban de Mieulle is responsible for the two top-rated Qatari purebred Arabian entries. Marid (ridden by Ronan Thomas), a dual Group 1 scorer in France in 2018, has the same rating as Shalaa in the four-year-old Derby. Al Hazm (Olivier Peslier), placed in Group 2 company in France and an easy winner on last month’s debut for the stable, is rated 2lbs behind Lady Princess at the top of the three-year-old field.

Archie Watson says of his Al Rayyan runner Maystar He has been very consistent all year and ran very well at The Curragh in the sales race over a stiff 6 1/2 furlongs. He disappointed on heavy ground in France and we subsequently gelded him. He recently won a very good race on the all-weather at Wolverhampton where he gave us the impression that the fast ground in Doha would suit him. We’ve always thought that he’d stay 7 furlongs and he’s in very good form.

Qatari and Qatar-trained runners will also be there for a new challenge to land more titles while facing classy tough contenders at Al Rayyan Park. The large number of international runners will add to the thrill of Derby races so much so indeed that the eyes of the racing community will descended on Al Rayyan Park for strong fields of runners showcasing their skills and talents.

Nasser Bin Sherida Al Kaabi, CEO of the Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club, said: The Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club is delighted with the quality and variety of the runners for this month’s Qatar International Derby Festival. We are very pleased to welcome runners from Britain, France, Germany and Oman. The fact that so many horses with form in European Group and Listed races are set to take part shows the progress that racing in Qatar in general and this Festival, in particular, is making.

I look forward to hosting many of the world’s top owners, trainers and Jockeys as we once again take pride in showcasing all that Qatar has to offer and promoting our nation as a hub for horseracing and a leader in the pure Arabian breed in line with QREC’s vision.

Source: Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club