Dane O’Neill to grab the reins of Shaishee in third meeting at Meydan Racecourse
Shaishee, a course and distance winner at Meydan Racecourse four weeks ago, spearheads a strong lineup of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s runners in the feature race of the third meeting of the season at Meydan racecourse on Thursday night.
The four-year-old gelded son of Indian Charlie should challenge for the most valuable prize in the six-race card, the Dh160,000 Longines Conquest Classic, a Conditions race for horses rated 80-plus.
Silvestre De Sousa, the stable jockey for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi, rode Shaishee in his last start, but Dane O’Neill, the retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan, takes over the duties on Thursday night.
“This fellow was very progressive last season,” O’Neill said. “Hopefully, he is still improving, as he won in a very impressive manner last time. This is a better race over a trip he has yet to win at, but I don’t think that will be an issue. He deserves his chance in this better grade and we expect him to run a big race.”
Sheikh Hamdan has three of the seven runners in the race, with trainer Doug Watson saddling the other two – Marching Time and Jawhar.
With Pat Dobbs aboard, Jawhar will make his dirt debut, but he holds the 1,600 metres turf track record at Meydan. Marching Time produced his best dirt performance while finishing second over course and distance two weeks ago. The eight-year-old gelded son of Saddler’s Wells will be ridden by Sam Hitchcott.
“Marching Time has already run two great races this season,” Watson said. “That proved he can handle this surface, whereas Jawhar has yet to race on it.
“He works well on dirt at home, so we have to hope he can replicate that in a race situation. He has improved from his seasonal debut, when behind Marching Time at Abu Dhabi, and hopefully both can go close.”
Satish Seemar has had a fantastic season so far at Meydan, since the synthetic Tapeta was replaced by a dirt track.
The Zabeel Stables trainer has sent out five winners across the first two meetings at Meydan, and three of them are back in action. Genius Step, a course and distance winner four weeks ago, runs in the fourth race, a handicap rated 85-95 over the sprint distance of 1,200m.
Tahaamah, making his first start for Seemar, won a 2,000m handicap. In the fifth race, Cross Grain, another impressive winner of a 1,400m maiden on his debut, is entered in the concluding race.
Richard Mullen, currently leading the jockeys’ championship, with Seemar top of the trainers’ standings, rides all three.
“It has been a great start to the season and just reward for a big team effort,” Mullen said.
“We always liked Genius Step and he has won three of his five starts for us. Hopefully, he is still improving. Cross Grain had been working well before his debut and did it well, but this is a lot tougher task. We will find out where we stand with him.
“Tahaamah was useful for Godolphin and made the perfect start for us, having been off the track since October 2013. Hopefully, he can build on that.”
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Published: December 3, 2014 04:00 AM