Harry Bentley, the leading apprentice in the UAE racing season, features prominently on a full card tonight as Meydan Racecourse undergoes a dress rehearsal for next week's Dubai International Racing Carnival.
Bentley is the mount for leading trainer Satish Seemar in all six races on tonight's thoroughbred-only card - the first of three Meydan spring meetings, sandwiched either side of the Carnival which starts on January 13. However, the fascinating duel between Bentley and William Buick, the exciting young jockey and stable rider for Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, has been shelved because Buick is forced to miss out after two nasty falls at Meydan Racecourse last week resulted in a concussion.
Buick, who temporarily lost consciousness after the second fall, is also likely to miss the first Carnival meeting on January 13.
Bentley, meanwhile, is hoping that his luck will hold and he can add to the nine UAE winners he has already ridden this season.
"It's been incredible," Bentley said.
"First of all, I didn't expect to have so many rides and I certainly didn't expect to ride so many winners.
"It's been really great so far."
Bentley secured a first listed victory of his fledgling career last month when he rode McCartney to a two-length win in the President's Cup at Abu Dhabi.
Now the 18-year-old, who has ridden 13 victories in England to date, is hoping his luck holds at Meydan Racecourse tonight and said his ride, Al Razi, in the opening Dh50,000 maiden is in with a shout.
The Distorted Humor gelding was placed on his last two outings and Bentley hopes he can make the most of his apprentice's claim, which sees 3kg taken off the weights.
"I think my ride in the first, Al Razi, has a good chance," said Bentley who has had a total of 63 race rides in the UAE so far this season.
"I'm taking 3kg off him which should be pretty helpful."
Al Razi, trained by Seemar, was fourth at Meydan last week and third at Jebel Ali at the start of December.
Bentley also rides the Seemar-trained Achill Bay, a winner for the rider at last outing, in the fourth, a 2,800m handicap worth Dh90,000.
"I won on him at Abu Dhabi in November and, with the claim, he's carrying just 49kg which is essentially nothing, so he should run a good one," said Bentley. "Western Adventure, my ride in the third, should also run well if he can come on from his last outing."
Western Adventure, who won a mile-long handicap at Meydan Racecourse for Bentley on December 16, is opposed by a number of horses who will be looking for improvement tonight, including Mubarak bin Shafya's Chaperno, who was ninth last week after previously finishing third in a conditions race and Eduardo Martins' Energia Berlim, also ninth last time out.
The Emirates Entertainment Racing Club syndicate looks set for an exciting evening with three live chances, Indian Skipper and Kilt Rock in the second 1,200m race and Mark to Market in the sixth, a 2,000m handicap.