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Abu Dhabi Spotlights Thoroughbreds

Seemar and Lemartinel hold strong hands in capital

THOROUGHBREDS run for the richest prize on offer at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club`s meeting in the United Arab Emirates capital on Sunday.

The Khalifa Handicap (1600m) offering a purse of AED100,000 has attracted a line up of 11 declarations.

Dubai-based trainer Satish Seemar saddled first and second in the sole Thoroughbred race at Abu Dhabi’s fixture last weekend when Lehbab was just denied in a 1400 metres handicap by Cross Grain.

Apprentice Marc Monaghan, aboard Lehbab last week, is again in the saddle with his mount seeking to open his UAE account at the sixth attempt.

“The extra 200 metres should certainly be in his favour and we have a much better draw this week,” said Monaghan. “He should be very competitive.”

Stable jockey, Richard Mullen, aboard Cross Grain last week, partners local debutant, Wheat Sheaf, having his first start for Seemar since changing hands for 60,000gns in the United Kingdom last October.

Only a four-year-old, and winner of one of his seven starts when trained there by Roger Charlton he looks an interesting new recruit to the Emirates.

“He is a nice, young horse who looks a good addition to the yard,” said Mullen. “This appears the ideal opportunity to get a run into him this season and, whatever, he achieves here he should be an interesting prospect for next season.”

Seemar’s third runner, Invincible Strike, the mount of Fernando Jara, has been running well in defeat on the Abu Dhabi turf and looks likely to make a bold bid from the front.

“It will be the third time I have ridden him at Abu Dhabi,” said Jara. “He has enjoyed being out in front in those races and, hopefully, dropping to 1600 metres will suit him as he has plenty of early pace.”

Deerfield, to be ridden by Tadhg O’Shea for Ali Rashid Al Raihe was only tenth in the race in which Lehbab was second last week but was less than three lengths behind the first two in a blanket finish.

‘That was his first start for the yard and a pleasing one,” said O’Shea. “This extra 200m should really suit him.”

Tides Rise, twice a winner at Jebel Ali this season for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash and the Dhruba Selvaratnam-prepared Jaladee will both be having their first turf starts since arriving in the UAE.

Of the pair, the latter, the mount of Chris Hayes, looks the most likely to benefit from the switch of surface having won his final start in England on turf at Lingfield.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is the Hamdan Handicap (1600m) in which Eric Lemartinel, the breed`s leading trainer, appears to hold all the aces, saddling three of the nine runners in the colours of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

O’Shea elects to ride Molahen El Alhan who has to concede weight to his eight rivals and arrives here having won an identical race four weeks ago.

He was never headed on that occasion, when facing just three rivals, but it was his sixth course and distance victory and these conditions appear his optimum.

He may have most to fear from unbeaten stable companion, RB Dixie Burning, returning to action having been absent since March 2014.

She won her only previous turf outing, over this 1600 metres, comfortably at the equivalent penultimate meeting of the Abu Dhabi season two years ago.

Though significantly, O’Shea, who was aboard for all three of her victories, deserts her in favour of Molahen El Alhan. Gerald Avranche takes the mount this time.

Jose Santiago rides the yard’s third runner Namrood, tailed off in each of his last four outings and seemingly better over further having won the 2400 metres Group 3 third round of the Arabian Triple Crown last year.

He only beat three opponents on that occasion but is plummeting down the weights and finds himself on a career low mark.