ABU DHABI // UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea and Richard Mullen — his main challenger for the title this season — both go into Sunday night’s meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Centre locked on 27 winners each.
Alongside the President Cup Prep races for both thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians, some of the spotlight will be on the battle for the jockey’s title between O’Shea and Mullen.
O’Shea is booked for all six races on the card, while Mullen rides one less.
Mullen seems to have an edge over his rival in the President’s Cup Prep for thoroughbreds. He rides Akeed Champion, winner over the course and distance on his first race in Abu Dhabi.
The five-year-old son of Dubawi is one of three runners trained by Satish Seemar and returns to the track after a creditable fifth behind Godolphin’s Acolyte in a Dh175,000 handicap on turf at Meydan Racecourse last week.
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O’Shea rode four winners in his last appearance at the capital’s track, including victory on Najm Suhail in the handicap for thoroughbreds, and they combine again.
“He is a nice new horse from England who has been pleasing us since he arrived but will certainly improve for the run,” O’Shea said.
“However, his stable companion, Ghaamer, looks sure to go very close.”
Ghaamer won the President Cup last year and is the choice of Jim Crowley, the retained jockey of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.
He is one of four runners in the silks of the owner.
“I rode him at Meydan three weeks ago and he ran very well,” British champion jockey Crowley said.
“We have a good low draw for a horse who likes to race prominently and he should go close.”
The Purebred Arabian version of the President Cup Prep has drawn 12 runners, including a quartet trained by Eric Lemartinel, who saddled three winners in Abu Dhabi last week.
All three winners were ridden by O’Shea, who rides Mahbooba, a winner of four of her five career starts, including the Group 3 Triple Crown Round 2 over the same course and distance.
Lemartinel also saddles Abu Alabyad, Nashmee and Shaheer who were second, third and 11th respectively in last year’s Group 1 President Cup.
“They are four nice horses who are working well and this is an obvious opportunity to demonstrate if they are good enough for a crack at the big race itself,” O’Shea said.
“Mahbooba has done very little wrong and, under her penalty, this will be a serious test for her and the toughest task she has faced. We have always really liked her though and she merits a try in this kind of company. Abu Alabyad would probably be the team’s second best chance but Richard Mullen looks the one to beat aboard Loraa.”
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