The race to be this season’s champion trainer comes into focus on Thursday night at Meydan Racecourse.
With 18 winners, Musabah Al Muhairi is one victory ahead of Ernst Oertel, and the Emirati has 16 horses across the six-race card; Oertel has none.
Al Muhairi saddles far more thoroughbreds than does Oertel, the South African, who has more Purebred Arabians.
Al Muhairi can get the ball rolling in the 1,600-metre first race with Shaishee, who has been knocking on the door with solid efforts on his two starts in the UAE since his arrival from a decent European campaign, when trained by Charles Hills in the United Kingdom.
He was a close third behind Puzzlemaker over the course and distance on December 5 and fifth behind Tarbawi over the extended 2,000m trip two weeks later.
Shaishee was runner-up four times in his six starts in the UK and with such consistent form he will be the one to beat in the Maiden race. Waahy, who finished ahead of Al Muhairi’s runner on both occasions, will be the main challenge.
The fifth race, a handicap rated 80-90, has the highest prize money, with a purse of Dh90,000, and the American trainer Doug Watson is triple handed with the newcomer Ostaad joined by stable companions Maath Gool and Maqaraat, both winners this season.
Ostaad, the mount of Dane O’Neill, will be making only his fifth career start, having won once from four outings in the UK with Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor.
That victory was achieved at Wolverhampton on an all-weather surface similar to that at Meydan and the trainer sounds happy with his new recruit.
“He has certainly pleased us since he arrived and we have taken him to Meydan a couple of times where he has worked well,” Watson said.
“He will probably come on for the run but we are hopeful of a good show on a surface he appears to like.”
Maath Gool, a winner at Abu Dhabi on his seasonal return, has also won at Meydan.
“He has a better draw this time than his last Meydan visit and he seems in great form. He should run well,” Watson said.
Maqaraat won on the dirt at Jebel Ali on the first day of the season and will be trying the Meydan all-weather for only the third time.
“He ran well enough on the surface last season,” Watson said. “He had a wind operation over the summer and has done nothing wrong since. It is great to have three live chances in a competitive race.”
Maqaarat and Ostaad are owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, who has five of the 13 runners. It looks significant that his retained jockey, Paul Hanagan, rides Mundahesh, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe.
“These choices are never easy but Mundahesh goes particularly well on these all-weather surfaces and has a good draw,” the two time British champion jockey said.
Al Muhairi has three entered, with Ramonti Flash being the pick of the trio. He can score with Dairam in the third race and Comicality half an hour later.