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Mutawakked, Sahaafy & Muhtaram Lead The Charge For Maria Ritchie in Abu Dhabi Feature

Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club host the fourth consecutive day of racing here in the UAE on Sunday with a seven race card highlighted by the only Thoroughbred contest, a 1600m handicap. The race has attracted the maximum field allowed of 14 but only representing six individual trainers.

Leading the way in terms of numbers is Maria Ritchie who will saddle four, two owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who has a total of three in the race. Jim Crowley elects to partner Mutawakked and Dane O’Neill chooses Sahaafy, half of the handler’s quartet. Stable jockey Fernando Jara has opted for Muhtaram who, along with Sahaafy, is conceding weight to their 12 rivals.

Tadhg O’Shea, leading the jockeys’ table this season rides the fourth, Special Boy and he said: “The yard are hitting form so it is nice to get a spare ride, especially on Special Boy; I have ridden him four times and he has run well each time and, last time I partnered him on turf, we won in China in April 2015. Hopefully he can produce another good effort in what looks a very competitive race.”

On his penultimate start also in China last April, Special Boy was third to stable companion, Muhtaram, when State Law, in opposition again for Doug Watson was second. Watson’s pupil was also runner-up on his latest outing, in a 2000m dirt handicap at Meydan and is joined in the field by stablemate Say No More who will actually be making his turf debut.

“State Law ran well in China and then again on his seasonal return, at Abu Dhabi, in November, as well as his most recent start two weeks ago,” Watson said. “We are keen to try Say No More on turf and his pedigree offers every hope it will suit him. Hopefully we have two decent chances in a wide open race.”

Satish Seemar saddles three with stable jockey, Richard Mullen, aboard Galesburg suggesting he could be the main hope for the team at Zabeel Stables. He has been running well all season, finishing third once and second three times in his four outings and will be having his first turf outing in the UAE, returning to the surface on which he registered all three career victories in England for Mark Johnston.

Also responsible for three runners is Ahmad bin Harmash with Connor Beasley presumably having chosen Al Barez from the trio. He won at Jebel Ali last Friday, his first victory since his juvenile debut on the same course in November 2016. However, owned by Sheikh Hamdan, he has been rejected by Crowley, aboard at Jebel Ali last week, and O’Neill who was in the saddle for that initial victory.

The best of the Purebred Arabian action is a 2200m handicap, the final race on the card and for which eight have been declared.Eric Lemartinel saddles two for HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan with O’Shea electing to ride Deyaar with Jesus Rosales aboard stable companion, Molahen El Alhan.

“Deyaar won over course and distance the only time she has tried the trip,” O’Shea said. “It was a tough choice but we know she stays well, whereas Molahen El Alhan has yet to prove his stamina.”

Also doubly represented are Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and Helal Al Alawi. The latter’s best chance would appear to be Saarah, with champion jockey Richard Mullen riding for Yas Horse Racing Management. Al Hadhrami’s ward BF Mughader arrives here seeking a hat-trick, having won both his previous starts, including over course and distance when ridden by O’Shea. Antonio Fresu who was aboard when he won at Al Ain over 2000m, four weeks ago rides again. Sam Hitchcott partners AL Tiryaq, another to consider in an open race and trained by Abdallah Al Hammadi.