Newly Upgraded Amir Trophy Attracts Deepest-Ever Field

Israr | Racingfotos.com

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Officials at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club announced in early 2023 that the purse for the country's richest Thoroughbred test, the H.H. The Amir Trophy, would be receiving a boost from an even $1-million to $2.5 million. A strong renewal won by the Hong Kong-based former Ballydoyle galloper Russian Emperor (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) helped to ensure that the 2400-metre contest would be accorded Group 3 status for the 2024 running, and the Amir Trophy has accordingly attracted the most competitive field in the history of the race.

Shadwell's Israr (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}) will take a fair bit of beating for John and Thady Gosden as he ventures to the Middle East for the second time in the space of the last few months. Having claimed the scalp of Derby hero Adayar (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) in the G2 Princess of Wales's S. on Newmarket's July Course last summer, the homebred son of Taghrooda (GB) (Sea The Stars {GB}) was sent to Bahrain for the G2 Bahrain International Trophy Nov. 17, running with credit to finish runner-up behind the classy Spirit Dancer (GB) (Frankel {GB}) and just ahead of Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}), who re-opposes Saturday.

Simca Mille (Ire) (Tamayuz {GB}) is one of three elite-level scorers in the Amir Trophy field, having broken through with a half-length defeat of Sisfahan (Fr) (Isfahan {Ger}) in the Grosser Preis von Berlin last August. A midfield 10th behind Ace Impact (Ire) (Cracksman {GB}) in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Oct. 1, the chestnut was acquired privately by Wathnan Racing and prepped for this with a fast-finishing defeat of the commonly owned Haunted Dream (Ire) (Oasis Dream {GB}) over 2200 metres Jan. 20. Mickael Barzalona takes the ride for Alban de Mieulle, while Oisin Murphy has the call aboard Haunted Dream.

Zeffiro (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) is one of three in the race for Japan and has Joao Moreira in the saddle, who partnered the bay to a victory in the G2 Copa Republica Argentina over an extended mile and a half at Tokyo in November. Damian Lane was at the controls when Zeffiro ran Junko (GB) (Intello {Ger}) to a length in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase in December. Yuga Kawada rides dual Group 2 winner Satono Glanz (Jpn) (Satono Diamond {Jpn}) and multiple group scorer North Bridge (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) will have Yasunari Iwata in the irons.

Rebel's Romance (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) makes the short trip over from Dubai for Charlie Appleby. The 2022 GI Breeders' Cup Turf hero was well held by Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) in last year's G1 Dubai Sheema Classic after an interrupted preparation, but he was back to something approaching his best form when taking out the Listed Wild Flower S. over the Kempton all-weather Dec. 13. Godolphin is also represented by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Passion And Glory (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}), a latest sixth in listed company in Bahrain behind Isle of Jura (GB) (New Approach {Ire}), a repeat winner at Sakhir on Friday.

The final day of the Amir Sword Festival has five Thoroughbred races with a combined $4.2 million and three races for Purebred Arabians. The Amir Trophy, the seventh the program at Al Rayyan Racecourse, jumps at 4.15pm local time (UTC +3). Noted commentator Mark Johnson will provide English race calls.

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