The Emir’s Sword Festival in Qatar has attracted a massive overseas entry - from nine different countries on three different continents – for its six international races, which are run on turf at Al Rayyan Racecourse on Friday and Saturday, February 23 and 24.
Overall, 78 of the 266 initial entries for these six contests, which carry total prizemoney of $2.95 million (£2,185,185), hail from outside Qatar.
The showpiece Thoroughbred event is the $1 million Emir’s Trophy, a mile-and-a-half contest that has attracted 53 entries from eight different countries.
They are led by Chemical Charge, a G3 winner in Britain last September; Money Multiplier, successful in last year’s G2 Monmouth Stakes for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown; and last year’s runner-up, Noor Al Hawa, trained in Germany by Andreas Wohler.
Other top foreign contenders are Italian hope Mac Mahon, winner of both the Italian Derby in Rome in May and the Qatar Derby at Al Rayyan last month; and the Japanese-trained pair of Mondo Intero and Toshin Monstera.
Other Thoroughbred highlights of the festival are the Al Biddah Mile, a 3-year-olds-only $250,000 mile race, and the six-furlong Dukhan Sprint, also worth US$250,000, but and open to older horses.
Tip Two Win gave his British handler, Roger Teal, one of his biggest successes when landing the Al Rayyan Stakes at this course four weeks ago and will be one of the leading contenders for the Al Biddah Mile.
The fourth international Thoroughbred event, the $200,000 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup over a mile, is run 24 hours before the other three, on the Friday.
Its 54 entries include Robin Of Navan, trained in Britain by Harry Dunlop but winner of a G2 at Chantilly in France last June, and the popular Irish-trained 10-year-old Gordon Lord Byron, a three-time G1 hero in his youth.
The Purebred Arabian feature race is the$1 million Emir’s Sword. Run over a mile and a half, it has 39 entries and features both last year’s winner, Ebraz, and the horse that beat him in the recent Qatar Derby, Yazeed, not to mention an eight-strong contingent from Oman, headed by Zaqur, runner-up in a$1 million race in Saudi Arabia on his latest start.
Ralph Beckett, trainer of Chemical Charge, said: “The plan is for Chemical Charge to run in the Emir’s Sword in Qatar at the end of next month. He is in good shape and the race could have been written for him as he wants fast ground and a right-handed track, so it should suit him ideally.”
“He will be my first runner out there. I was delighted with his fourth place in Hong Kong last month – it was a career best run and he was beaten less than three lengths by Highland Reel.
“We have kept him on the go since then as he is not the kind of horse that you can really back off – he has to be kept moving.”
Saturday February 24
Emir’s Trophy, 3yo+, US$1,000,000, 1m 4f/2400m
53 entries (37 from Qatar, 4 from GB, 4 from USA, 2 from Germany, 2 from Ireland, 2 from Japan, 1 from France, 1 from Italy).
16 overseas entries are: Chemical Charge (R Beckett, GB), Gabrial (R Fahey GB), Red Label (M Botti, GB), Elbereth (A Balding, GB); Money Multiplier (Chad Brown, USA), Flamboyant (P Gallagher, USA), Run Time (M Maker, USA), Evo Campo (P Gallagher, USA); Noor Al Hawa (A Wohler, Germany), Parviz (W Hickst, Germany); Qatari Hunter (J Bolger, Ireland), Glamorous Approach (J Bolger, Ireland); Mondo Intero (T Tezuka, Japan), Toshin Montera (A Murayama, Japan); Best Fouad (F Rohaut, France); Mac Mahon (A Botti, Italy).
Al Biddah Mile, 3yo only, US$250,000, 1m/1600m
28 entries (21 from Qatar, 4 from GB, 3 from France).
7 overseas entries are: Tip Two Win (R Teal, GB), Ghost Serge (A Watson, GB), Albishr (S Dow, GB), Holy Shambles (M Botti, GB); Tawahid (E O’Neill, France), Pier Cesar (A Marcialis, France), Lahdan (F Rohaut, France).
Dukhan Sprint, 3yo+, US$250,000, 6f/1200m
50 entries (30 from Qatar, 8 from Oman, 7 from GB, 1 from Ireland, 1 from USA, 1 from France, 1 from Japan, 1 from Germany).
20 overseas entries are: Da-Lhe Salvador (A Selvaratnam, Oman), Dubai Iconic (Mohammed Salem Al Seyabi, Oman), Roicead (A Selvaratnam, Oman), Ashaadd (A Selvaratnam, Oman), Make It Reel (Mohammed Salem Al Seyabi, Oman), The Smart One (Abdullah Al Balushi, Oman), Sublime (A Selvaratnam, Oman), Da-Lhe Ghadeer (A Selvaratnam, Oman), Caspian Prince (T Coyle, GB), Intisaab (D O’Meara, GB), Final Venture (P Midgley, GB), Gulliver (H Palmer, GB), Encore d’Or (R Cowell, GB), Line Of Reason (P Midgley, GB), Orvar (P Midgley, GB); Gordon Lord Byron (T Hogan, Ireland), Hogy (M Maker, USA); Haftohaf (J Hammond, France); Compilation (T Tezuka, Japan); Alwina (H Grewe, Germany).
Friday February 23
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup, 3yo+, US$200,000, 1m/1600m
54 entries (40 from Qatar, 4 from GB, 4 from Oman, 3 from France, 2 from Germany, 1 from Ireland).
14 overseas entries are: Robin Of Navan (H Dunlop, GB), Gulliver (H Palmer, GB), Gabrial (R Fahey, GB), Mr Scaramanga (S Dow, GB); Da-Lhe Salvador (A Selvaratnam, Oman), Dubai Iconic (Mohammed Salem Al Seyabi, Oman), Make It Reel (Mohammed Aalem Al Seyabi, Oman), Sublime (A Selvaratnam, Oman); Royal Julius (J Reynier, France), Nice To See You (Robert Collet, France), Flight To Dubai (A Marcialis, France); Diplomat (Mario Hofer, Germany), Alwina (H Grewe, Germany); Gordon Lord Byron (T Hogan, Ireland).