Udabaa leads charge for Sheikh Hamdan and trainer Doug Watson at Abu Dhabi
The thoroughbreds take centre stage at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday with 11 declared for a 2,400-metre handicap, the final event on the six-race card and the only non-Purebred Arabian contest.
Udabaa, trained by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, won the race last season but has not won since.
One of four in the race owned by Sheikh Hamdan, he is the choice of the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill.
When landing this race last year, Udabaa was recording a second consecutive Abu Dhabi victory, having won a 2,200m handicap on his previous outing.
Watson also saddles the same owner’s Mujrayaat, fifth when his stable companion won that 2,200m contest.
The mount of stable jockey Pat Dobbs, Mujrayaat will make his third start of the campaign.
Dr Faustus, a third runner for the American handler and seventh in last year’s renewal, was second in the same race in 2012 and is another with two previous starts this season.
“The horses have been running really well all season,” Watson said.
“Abu Dhabi really suits Udabaa, and he is back on the same mark as when he won this race last year. Things did not really go to plan for him last time and we hope he can bounce back.
“He has a much better draw this time and is probably our best chance. Hopefully, Dr Faustus and Mujrayaat also have live chances in a competitive race.”
The main challenger to Watson’s horses is likely to be the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Ukrainian under Royston Ffrench.
At Sharjah on Saturday, the feature 1,700m handicap was won by Sheikh Hamdan’s Zaffaan, patiently ridden by Silvestre De Sousa for his main employer, Musabah Al Muhairi.
Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE
Published: December 13, 2014 04:00 AM