Horses from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Ireland and Italy feature in a high-class 16-runner renewal of the Emir’s Trophy, the Thoroughbred highlight of the two-day $2.95 million (£2.2m) Emir’s Sword Festival at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha, Qatar, on Friday and Saturday.
The $1 million mile-and-a-half race is, like all six international races at the festival, run on turf. It feaures a rare partnership between the world's #3 trainer, Chad Brown, and world #4 jockey Frankie Dettori, who team up with the Brown-trained Money Multiplier, who heads the overseas challenge alongside the British pair Chemical Charge (Ralph Beckett/Oisin Murphy) and Elbereth (Andrew Balding/David Probert).
Money Multiplier won the G2 Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park last July and was subsequently runner-up in the G1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga.
Chemical Charge, a G3 winner last September, was last seen finishing less than three lengths behind Highland Reel when fourth in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December. The seasoned traveller, Elbereth, already placed in big races in Istanbul and Milan, tuned up for this contest with a fourth place in the Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield two weeks ago.
France is represented by the G3 and five-time listed race scorer Best Fouad (Francois Rohaut/Christophe Soumillon), while Germany’s hopes rest with course specialist Noor Al Hawa (Andreas Wohler/Eddie Pedroza), runner-up in this race a year ago and previously successful here in the 2016 Qatar Derby.
Irish trainer Jim Bolger has booked Kevin Manning to ride the lightly-raced Qatari Hunter, who will be having just his second start in the last 17 months, and the Italian raider, Mac Mahon (Alduino Botti/Dario Vargiu), will be stepping up by two furlongs on the distance he covered when landing the 2017 Qatar Derby eight weeks ago.
Run half an hour later over the same course and distance, the festival’s other $1 million race is the Emir’s Sword for purebred Arabians. A field of 15 is led by last year’s winner, Ebraz (Julian Smart/Theo Bachelot), and Yazeed (Alban de Mieulle/Olivier Peslier), who beat Ebraz by a short head in the Qatar Arabian Derby over a mile and a quarter (2000m) at the end of last year.
The two international raiders are, from France, the three-time G2 winner Almaa (Thomas Fourcy/Jerome Cabre) and, from Oman, Zaqur (Faisal Abdullah Al Senaidi/Anas Al Seyabi).
Saturday’s three other international contests are all worth $250,000. They are - for Thoroughbreds - the Al Biddah Mile, over one mile, and the Dukhan Sprint over six furlongs, and – for Arabians – the Qatar International Cup over one mile.
The ten-runner Al Biddah Mile is restricted to 3-year-olds and will see the solitary foreign contender, Tip Two Win, trained in England by Roger Teal and ridden by David Probert, take on five of the horses he beat when landing the Al Rayyan Stakes over seven furlongs in Doha on December 30.
The Dukhan Sprint will feature Izzthatright (Jassim Mohammed Ghazali Jahromi/Harry Bentley) bidding to win it for a third straight year. His 11 opponents will include four from Britain – the 2017 third Caspian Prince (Julia Brooke/Ben Curtis) plus Final Venture (Paul Midgley/Paul Mulrennan), Gulliver (Hugo Palmer/Andrea Atzeni) and Intisaab (David O’Meara/Martin Harley).
Top local Arabian TM Thunder Struck (de Mieulle/Peslier) will defend his Qatar International Cup crown against 12 rivals, including two from France, Ateej (Rohaut/Soumillon) and Rijm (Fourcy/Faleh Bughanaim).
The festival gets under way on Friday with one international event on an eight-race card, the $200,000 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup over one mile. The popular Irish-trained veteran Gordon Lord Byron (Tom Hogan/Billy Lee) is one of two foreign challengers in a field of 14 alongside Diplomat (Mario Hofer/Alexander Pietsch) from Germany.