International Cast For Qatar's Major Festival


Fabrice Chappet and Christophe Soumillon were among the winners at last year's festival | QREC

Three European Group 1 winners feature among a cast of 75 international entries for Qatar's biggest racing fixture, the HH The Amir Sword Festival.

Last week's G2 Singspiel S. winner Lord Glitters (Fr) (Whipper) has been entered for the $1 million HH The Amir Trophy, the Longines-sponsored feature race for Thoroughbreds on Feb. 20 at Al Rayyan Racecourse in Doha, along with Aspetar (Fr) (Al Kazeem {GB}), who is owned by Qatar's HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and 6-year-old Intellogent (Ire) (Intello {Ger}). The latter has raced in America, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in recent seasons for trainer Fabrice Chappet, who was successful at last year's festival when Al Malhouf (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) won the HH The Amir Shalfa.

Intellogent is one of five French entries for the race along with Royal Julius (Ire) (Royal Applause {GB}), another globetrotter who will be making his third consecutive appearance in Doha for Jerome Reynier, having finished runner-up in the HH The Amir Trophy in 2019 and fifth last year. Last season's St Leger runner-up Berkshire Rocco (GB) (Sir Percy {GB}) has also been given an entry for the mile-and-a-half contest by trainer Andrew Balding, who also has King Power Racing's six-time winner Johnny Drama (Ire) (Lilbourne Lad {Ire}) entered.

The 5-year-old Felix (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) has won four or his five starts since joining Marco Botti's stable and he is another with a Trophy entry along with his Newmarket neighbour, Red Verdon (Lemon Drop Kid), who has now won nine of his 41 starts for Ed Dunlop and the Hon. Ronnie Arculli.

Among the local entries for the domestic Group 1 contest is a Qatari favourite, The Blue Eye (GB). Now nine, the son of Dubawi (Ire) has won 20 of his 37 races at Al Rayyan and has contested the last five runnings of HH The Amir Trophy, winning in partnership with Harry Bentley in 2016 and 2018.

With a total prize fund of $4.34 million (£3.26 million), the three-day festival features five international races on Saturday, Feb. 20—three for Thoroughbreds and two for purebred Arabians—with the Thoroughbred turf races completed by the six-furlong Breeders' Cup-sponsored Dukhan Sprint and the Al Biddah Mile for 3-year-olds.

Last season's Stewards' Cup winner Summerghand (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) is one of two entries for the David O'Meara stable in the Dukhan Sprint, which has also attracted Corine Barande-Barbe's G3 Prix du Petit Couvert winner Air De Valse (Fr) (Mesnil Des Aigles {Fr}) and the listed Roses S. victor Acklam Express (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}). Another French challenger in Qatar could be the 3-year-old Homeryan (Fr) (Sea The Stars {Ire}), trained by Francis Graffard for Steve Burggraf's Ecurie de Montlahuc. Last seen in public finishing runner-up in the G3 Prix Thomas Bryon in October, the colt is an entrant in the Al Biddah Mile along with Andrew Balding's recent Wolverhampton winner Wallem (GB) (Sea The Moon {Ger}).

The international contest on the Friday of the festival is the $200,000 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup, run over a mile for 4-year-olds and up with an entry list of 59 horses from seven different countries. Ireland's Adrian McGuinness trains three of the entries, led by the 7-year-old Saltonstall (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), who has won his three most recent starts, including the listed Glencairn S. at Naas. Frederic Rossi, who had a breakthrough season in 2020 with Group 1 winners Dream And Do (Ire) and Sealiway (Fr), has entered the consistent Kenway (Fr) (Kendargent {Fr}), whose five wins include victory over subsequent Group 1 winner Wooded (Fr) in the G3 Prix la Rochette.

The six international races have attracted 29 horses from Britain, 23 from France, 15 from Oman, three from Ireland, two from Bahrain, and one each from Spain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


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