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Seemar Holds Strong hand in Abu Dhabi Thoroughbred Handicap

Zabeel Stables Trainer Saddles Five

Racing returns to the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club on Sunday evening for an intriguing six race fixture culminating with the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1400m handicap.

Arguably the most competitive event on the card, with a maximum field of 14 and four reserves waiting in the wings it promises to be a fiercely contested finale.

With no less than five runners in the race, Satish Seemar clearly has a strong hand and stable jockey, Richard Mullen chooses to ride Akeed Champion with the yard’s apprentice, Cameron Noble, aboard Shihab.

This would suggest they are the two main hopes but a case could also be made for their stable companions, Lehbab, Taaj and Highest Level.

“These choices are never easy,” said Mullen. “Obviously I hope I have picked the right one but I will be happy if any of the six win for the team.”

Dhruba Selvaratnam saddles both Monolight and, seemingly his main hope, Wekeyll owned by his main patron, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the mount of Brett Doyle, deputising for the injured Chris Hayes.

“Both have had a race this season and should be a lot fitter this second time,” said Selvaratnam who is seeking a first winner of the season. “The return to turf should suit them both and, hopefully, they can run well in a very tough looking race.”

UAE Champion Trainer, Doug Watson saddled a double at Jebel Ali on Friday and relies on Almohtaseb in this. An excellent second on seasonal debut over 1600m at Jebel Ali, he was then perhaps a bit disappointing at the same venue over 1800m when the trip seemingly taxed his stamina.

However, he is owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose retained jockey, Dane O’Neill chooses to ride Dairam for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.

His three UAE victories have all been achieved on dirt but he won on turf in England for Charlie Hills and certainly cannot be discounted in a wide open contest.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action seemingly revolves around the return to the track of Mahbooba in a 1600m conditions race restricted to fillies and mares.

Owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the four-year-old is trained by Eric Lemartinel but does have to give weight to nine rivals, mostly her elders, on this occasion.

Winner of all bar one of her four career starts to date, highlighted by the Group 3 middle round of the Arabian Triple Crown over 2200m, she is undoubtedly the class act in the race.

However, she did look a genuine stayer last season, despite making a winning debut over course and distance in January of this year so the trip may be a concern.

“She is a nice filly without doubt,” said her jockey, Tadhg O’Shea. “Further would probably suit her better but it looks a good spot to get her back racing.”

Should the shorter trip catch her out, Haizoom, trained by Majed Al Jahouri for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the mount of Cameron Noble, looks the most likely to benefit.

She was a course and distance winner in March and will be having just her second start of the season after a run on the Al Ain dirt three weeks ago.