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Haatheq Makes First Start Since Godolphin Mile Runner-up Spot‏

Exciting Carnival Clues on Offer in Six-race DUBAL Card

Photo: Cedric Lane (UAEracingpics@gmail.com)

Haatheq, last seen finishing three-quarters-of-a-length behind Soft Falling Rain in the 2013 Godolphin Mile, kicks off his seasonal campaign at Meydan tomorrow (Thursday).

He will line up in an interesting 1600m Conditions race, one of six contests sponsored by long-time racing supporter, DUBAL.

The 2013 Godolphin Mile runner up is trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for prominent owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sheikh Hamdan’s string is firing early, having claimed five of the seven Thoroughbred races held over three UAE meetings last weekend. With bigger dates no doubt penciled in for the tough six-year-old, Haatheq’s connections will be looking for a solid start to the new season.

The son of Seeking The Gold faces six rivals in Thursday’s feature and has to concede weight to every one of them having won twice in the last year, including January’s Jebel Ali Mile Prep. He also chased home the mighty dirt specialist, Treble Jig in the Jebel Ali Mile in a repeat of the 2012 renewal of the same race.

Also a runner-up in the Al Maktoum Challenge RII in 2012, Haatheq has yet to win outside Handicap and Conditions company but his career-best efforts in defeat make him appear the horse to beat here.

The owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, predictably elects to ride him instead of stable companion, Mustaheel. “Haatheq is tough, consistent and versatile,” he said. “I am really looking forward to getting back on him and we have to be very hopeful. Obviously he has bigger targets ahead but this is a nice place to start.”

Lining up alongside Haatheq is trainer, Mubarak bin Shafya`s Busker who failed to fire on his seasonal return a fortnight ago. He did finish last season in great form however, highlighted by a victory over Thursday’s course and distance and he should strip fitter with that first run under his belt.

The Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Canwinn is another to have won under these conditions. Making his seasonal debut, he has gone well fresh in the past and won a 1600m handicap on this card two years ago on his first start of that campaign, Selvaratnam though has said that his charges are all likely to come on for their seasonal debuts.

The only three-year-old in the field, Ramonti Flash, won a course and distance handicap a fortnight ago for trainer, Musabah Al Muhairi and jockey, Wayne Smith but this is a big step up in grade. The youngster, who has changed hands after former owner Fathi Easa Mohd Egziama inked a deal with Ali Haddad in the interim, is expected to inform connections as to his big-race credentials with his performance tomorrow.

Smith said: “He surprised us last time and is certainly improving but this is a big task. At least we know he is fit and well. We will see if he is possibly Carnival class against the likes of Haatheq.”

Several runners in the 1200m handicap, also have Dubai World Cup Carnival aspirations, including Ramonti Flash’s stable companion, Innocuous. The mount of Smith was runner-up to another stablemate, Chasing Halos, at Meydan’s first meeting.

“That was a good first run back and he should be spot on this week,” said Smith. “We have a nice draw and we expect a big run.”

Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel, whose eight victories to make him the current table topper, has his team in flying form early on. He introduces Brazen to the UAE. Only three, Brazen won three times in the UK and, significantly, won his only start on Polytrack so the Meydan all-weather surface should suit. The trainer said: “He is a nice young horse and, we hope, one for the Dubai World Cup Carnival”

James Doyle rides for Oertel here because Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea is retained to ride for Thistle Bloodstock for whom Satish Seemar saddles Scotland Forever, another three-year-old making his local debut.

Long-time Dubai racehorse owner, Jimmy Long also hopes he has a Dubai World Cup Carnival contender on his hands. He said: “We really like this horse and we think there is a lot of improvement to come from him. We need to get his rating up to run at the Dubai World Cup Carnival and he should go very well Thursday.”