Thoroughbreds Star in Abu Dhabi Feature Sunday

Watson Hoping to Continue Jebel Ali Hot Streak with Udabaa

The Thoroughbreds take centre stage at Abu Dhabi this Sunday with an ultra competitive 2200m handicap for which the maximum field of 16 are set to face the starter.

The most valuable race on the card, it looks wide open but Doug Watson, fresh from his Jebel Ali treble on Friday, will be hoping his Udabaa can repeat his victory of 12 months ago. One of four in the race for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he is the choice of the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill.

“Conditions clearly suit him and he has improved a lot from his first run of the season on the opening day at Jebel Ali,” said Watson. “He had already had a run when winning this last season and the horses are running well on the whole."

“He should be competitive in what looks a tough race."

Watson also saddles the same owner’s Mujrayaat, the mount of Sam Hitchcott and Dr Faustus, to be ridden by Pat Dobbs and giving the trainer a strong hand. Hitchott and his mount were fifth in the same race last year.

Also triple handed is Satish Seemar with stable jockey, Richard Mullen, choosing to ride Antinori.

“He ran well enough on his reappearance,” said Mullen. “That was on dirt and this return to turf should suit him. We have a reasonable draw in eight and he should go well but it looks a very competitive heat.”

Stable apprentice, Marc Monaghan, rides Burdlaz with David Smith on Seemar’s third runner, Royal Revival. Smith produced a thrilling late burst on his mount to lead in the dying strides over 1600m at Abu Dhabi three weeks ago.

That remains the jockey’s only previous ride this season so he will be looking to protect his 100 per cent strike rate!

Seventh in this race last year was Mulaqat, trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam for his main patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His last turf victory was achieved in the 2008 Listed Abu Dhabi Championship over this course and distance but he has won twice on dirt at Jebel Ali since.

In a wide open contest, the Erwan Charpy-trained Amaan is another to consider under Noel Garbutt. Another owned by Sheikh Hamdan, he beat Udabaa over course and distance in February.

The remainder of the card is restricted to the Purebred Arabians with the most valuable of five contests a 1600m handicap. Champion Trainer, Ernst Oertel, is responsible for three of the eleven declarations with Richly Blessed looking the main hope under Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

Jose Santiago picks up the spare ride on stable companion Swyft, with the stable apprentice, Daniel Muscutt, on TM Junior Johnson.

Zaffaan looks an interesting contender for Shaikh Hamdan and Musabah Al Muhairi with stable jockey, Silvestre De Sousa aboard as Dane O’Neill cannot ride at 53kgs.

Jaber Bittar has made a solid start to the new campaign and saddles both Monawer, under Jesus Rosales and Mullen’s mount Bouthayna Al Reef. Both look capable of running well in another fiendishly difficult race to call.