Horse racing: Abu Dhabi meet will make championship race picture clearer

After 20 races in three days across three different venues — Dubai, Al Ain and Sharjah — the action moves Sunday night to Abu Dhabi’s penultimate meeting.

Ejbaar. Steven Cargill /
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ABU DHABI // After 20 races in three days across three different venues — Dubai, Al Ain and Sharjah — the action moves Sunday night to Abu Dhabi’s penultimate meeting.

Along with the six races at the capital’s track, the spotlight falls on the UAE trainers’ and jockeys’ championships that have both reached boiling points.

Champion trainer Doug Watson regained the lead after saddling two winners at Sharjah yesterday, taking his tally to 37, one more than Satish Seemar. Eric Lemartinel is third on 32.

Seemar and Watson have two runners each in the solitary race for the thoroughbreds, the concluding handicap run over 1,400 metres. Lemartinel, who trains mostly Purebred Arabians, has entered five across three races.

Richard Mullen seems to have the UAE jockeys’ championship firmly in his control after riding three winners each at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday and Al Ain on Friday.

He has ridden 51 winners and stands six ahead of closest challenger Tadhg O’Shea, who rode one winner at Sharjah.

Mullen rides Ejbaar for his main employer Seemar tonight.

The Oasis Dream gelding won on his local debut on the dirt at the Jebel Ali racecourse over 1,000m in January and was fifth in his next start at the same track a two weeks later over 1,200m.

“It has been a wonderful couple of days and a great season all round,” Mullen said. “We have been keen to try Ejbaar on turf. This looks an ideal opportunity and we are nicely drawn.”

Seemar also saddles one of the main dangers in Taaj, victorious in both his two most recent outings, both over 1,600m at Abu Dhabi, including last Sunday when partnered by Mullen.

O’Shea is atop Taaj, the four-year-old gelded son of Street Cry and has the inside draw in Gate 1.

“It is certainly a nice spare ride and one who should run well,” O’Shea said. “He seems to really like Abu Dhabi so will, hopefully, at least be competitive.”

Ejbaar runs in the silks of Khalifa Al Basti, as are both of Watson’s challengers, Indescribable and Denzille Lane.

Pat Dobbs, Watson’s stable jockey, has opted for Indescribable after his close third behind Taaj last Sunday, suggesting this shorter trip might suit him.

“Both are in very good form,” Watson said. “Indescribable ran very well last week but, as he was then, has a wide draw to overcome again. Denzille Lane [with Sam Hitchcott aboard] has a better gate and hopefully the switch to turf will suit him, but it does look very competitive.”

Both Mullen and O’Shea ride in all six races with the latter partnering three of Lemartinel’s entries.

All three are fancied. RB Inferno, Bainoona and Deyaar can go close in the second, third and fourth races, respectively.

Mullen has picked up some smart spare rides in the same races. He is booked on Jean de Roualle’s Dhamin in the second race, AF Deema for Ernst Oertel in the next and Bachair Qardabiyah for Elise Jeanne in the fifth.

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