Abu Dhabi’s second meeting of the season on Thursday opens a UAE racing weekend three fixtures.
The capital’s mixed six-race meeting is followed by Al Ain and Jebel Ali’s all-thoroughbred cards.
The first two meetings consist of 11 races for the Purebred Arabians and a prize each for the thoroughbreds.
The highlight of the six-race mixed card in Abu Dhabi is the concluding handicap for thoroughbreds run over the 2,200-metre distance that has drawn 11 runners.
Bhupat Seemar, Ismail Mohammed, and Ahmad bin Harmash have two entries each while Doug Watson saddles Shadwell’s Al Qaqaa, the mount of the owner’s retained jockey Dane O’Neill.
Al Qaqaa was a distant third in the 1,900m handicap on dirt at Meydan, on his seasonal reappearance two weeks ago. He may well have needed that first run for 307 days, although he did win first time out last year, over 2,000m on the equivalent Meydan card 12 months earlier.
His other career victory, in Britain when trained by William Haggas, was on turf over 2,400m at Newmarket and he was third on his sole previous visit to Abu Dhabi, then second at Meydan, in his two outings on grass in the UAE.
Watson’s charge is joint-top weight alongside the Mohammed-trained Celestial Spheres, who is seeking a third consecutive victory having finished last season in great form with a pair of 2,400m handicap victories here in the capital.
Mohammed has booked promising apprentice Conor Planas to take a valuable 3kgs of his back and the trainer also saddles Ahesta Bero, to be ridden by Jose de Silva.
Seemar is represented by Poster Paint, who has the benefit of a run this season and is the choice of stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea, and seasonal debutant Bosphorus who will have the assistance of Pat Cosgrave.
Bin Harmash also saddles two with Light Beam, to be partnered by Saif Al Balushi, seemingly overlooked by Ray Dawson, in favour of Gareth.