ABU DHABI // William Buick, who landed one of racing's plum jobs riding for the English trainer John Gosden earlier this month, will be conspicuous by his absence on the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Envisage in tonight's 10th meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club. Buick, 21, was given a two-day ban by the Emirates Racing Authority for careless riding on Selvaratnam's For Once in the Commercial Bank of Dubai handicap at Jebel Ali last week.
It keeps him out of action from the capital's meeting as well as next Thursday's fixture at Meydan Racecourse, which has left Selvaratnam fuming. "The two-day ban is a very harsh punishment for a young jockey, particularly when he had done nothing wrong," he said. "If it was a jockey with a big name and reputation, they would have got away without any punishment. I have seen the head-on replay and there was hardly any interference. And a two-day riding ban in a short season is ludicrous."
Buick, having become the champion apprentice in the UK, joined the Jebel Ali stable as the retained jockey for the owner, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid, in the 2008/09 season after riding an impressive 22 winners. He has already visited the winners' enclosure 14 times in his second season, helping him to secure a job in the summer for his new employer at Newmarket. Selvaratnam has booked Daragh O'Donohoe to ride Envisage in tonight's concluding event, the Ghee Whiz handicap, rated 75-100 and run over 11 furlongs, which is the highlight of a card that also includes five races for the Purebred Arabians.
Envisage, a course and distance winner three weeks ago, heads the field of 11. The six-year-old Singspiel gelding beat Detonator and a repeat of that run could see Selvaratnam's runner land his second prize in the capital. "He gets a three-pound penalty for winning the race by a head, and I'm not very pleased with that," added the Jebel Ali trainer. While Envisage looks to be the pick of the bunch, he can expect a tough challenge from the in-form trainer-jockey combination of Ali Rashid al Raihe and Royston Ffrench on Palm Court.
The Green Desert gelding was a good third behind Warrior's Key on this course in his last start and prior to that had won at Jebel Ali, both over the mile-long trip. Game Stalker is another to be respected and both should give Envisage a good run for his money. Ratim, trained by Doug Watson, is fancied on his local debut from Rod Simpson's No Limit Del Ma in the first of the races for Purebred Arabians.
Jazeerat Alsadyaat can return to winning ways for Simpson half an hour later and Gillian Duffield's Jawhara Al Reef should be in contention to claim the next race, a maiden for local bred fillies and mares. Majed al Jahouri's Knife has shown a lot of consistency to be considered in the fourth race for the Al Wathba Stud Farm for private owners and Eric Lemartinel's Albar Lotois will be in the hunt to claim the fifth.