Menwaal set for debut

Duffield's horse to compete in 2,200m but "the nice young prospect" will need to beat Lemartinel's challengers in capital.

Richard Hills will ride Menwaal in Abu Dhabi.
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Menwaal, the winner of both his starts in the UK, makes his UAE debut today in the 2,200m feature race for purebred Arabians at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.

"He is a nice young prospect but this is his toughest task to date," Richard Hills, his jockey, said. "We will find out a lot about him and hopefully he can have a good season."

Menwaal, trained by Gillian Duffield, will be challenged by four entries saddled by Eric Lemartinel. Dahes, ridden by Gerald Avranche, may be the main threat.

"We have enjoyed a great start to the season and hopefully that can continue," Avranche said. "Dahes won last time after some good efforts in defeat and can hopefully go close again."

Stable companions Baher, Rafed and AS Mushrif are others to consider, along with the consistent Bareq, trained by Musabah al Muhairi. "He rarely runs a bad race and deservedly managed a victory last time at Sharjah," Wayne Smith, the jockey, said of Bareq.

"This is a better race but he should go well."

There is one thoroughbred race in the six-race card, a 1600m handicap.

Top weight will be carried by Mulaqat, trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam and ridden by Kieren Fallon.

Mulaqat won the 2008 Abu Dhabi Championship and has been running well recently.

He will be challenged by Ali Rashid al Raihe's Vito Corleone and Satish Seemar's Birbone.

Richard Mullen leads the jockey standings at the track with 10 victories. Hills and Smith are right behind with nine wins.

Among trainers, Rod Simpson is tops at the track with 19 wins. Lemartinel is second with 11, while Duffield and Saifaldin Deeb each have eight.