The $200,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy Sponsored by Haras Estrela Energia (UAE-III) attracted an intriguing field of 13, including globetrotting stayer Jakkalberry, 2012 Irish St. Leger (Ire-I) victor Royal Diamond, and Saddler's Rock, who has shown impressive stamina.
The 2,810-meter (about 1 3/4-mile) turf race is a prep for the marathon $1 million Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-III) March 30, and both Jakkalberry and Saddler's Rock are seasoned veterans against some of the world's top distance horses.
Winner of the 2010 Gran Premio de Milano (Ity-I), 7-year-old Jakkalberry makes his first start of the year for trainer Marco Botti. The Storming Home horse checked in third to Fox Hunt in last year's Nad al Sheba Trophy before finishing third to Cirrus des Aigles in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I).
Jakkalberry's only win in seven starts in 2012 came in the inaugural American St. Leger, at 1 11/16 miles last summer at Arlington Park. Third to Green Moon in the 3,200-meter (about two-mile) Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) in November at Flemington, he closed the year with disappointing 11th-place finish in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I).
Trained by John Oxx, Saddler's Rock makes his Meydan debut. He preceded a win in the two-mile Goodwood Cup (Eng-II) in August with a third-place finish to Colour Vision and Opinion Poll in the 2 1/2-mile Gold Cup (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot and a runner-up finish in the 1 3/4-mile-mile Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown. In 2011, the Sadler's Wells horse defeated Opinion Poll in the 2 1/4-mile Doncaster Cup (Eng-II).
Royal Diamond won the 1 3/4-mile Irish St. Leger by a head last September at the Curragh, strongly rallying in the final furlong to edge front-runner Massiyn in the final stride. The victory marked the stakes debut for the now 7-year-old King's Best gelding, a consistent runner who last year posted two wins, two seconds, and three thirds for trainer Tommy Carmody.
Godolphin has three runners entered: multiple graded stakes-placed Balladry, French stakes winner Tenenbaum, and Ahzeemah, who finished second to Star Empire in a prep for the Nad al Sheba Trophy Feb. 7 at Meydan.
South African stakes winner Star Empire, representing trainer Mike de Kock, also returns in the Nad al Sheba Trophy after finishing third in the race in 2011.
For entries and free past performance data, visit www.amwestentertainment.com.