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Shaishee and O`Neill Bid for Runner’s Second Meydan Win of New Term

Picture: Dubai RacingClub / Andrew Watkins

Faces Three Other Course Winners on Thursday

It may be only the third race meeting to be staged on Meydan Racecourse’s new dirt track, yet Thursday’s fixture has attracted four course winners headlines by the progressive Shaishee who faces six in the Dh160,000 Longines Conquest Classic Gents 1600m conditions contest.

Shaishee was an easy winner over 1400m at the first meeting on the dirt four weeks ago for trainer Musabah Al Muhairi when Silvestre De Sousa performed riding duties.

Dane O’Neill, riding for Shaishee’s owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, takes over the steering this week. “This fellow was very progressive last season,” said the jockey, who gets first pick of Sheikh Hamdan-owned horses. “Hopefully he is still improving as he won in a very impressive manner last time. This is a better race over a trip he has yet to win at but I don’t think that will be an issue.

“He deserves his chance in this better grade and we expect him to run a big race.”

Al Muhairi’s stable jockey, De Sousa, rides stable companion, Modern History making his dirt debut and seeking a first UAE victory at the seventh attempt.

Sheikh Hamdan owns three of the seven runners in the race, with Doug Watson saddling the other two - Marching Time and Jawhar. Jawhar, the mount of Pat Dobbs is making his dirt debut but does hold the 1600m turf track record at Meydan. Marching Time arguably produced his best dirt performance when second over course and distance a fortnight ago. He will be ridden by Sam Hitchcott.

“Marching Time has already run two great races this season,” said Watson. “That proved he can handle this surface whereas Jawhar has yet to race on it."

“He works well on dirt at home so we have to hope he can replicate that in a race situation. He has improved from his seasonal debut, when behind Marching Time at Abu Dhabi and hopefully both can go close.”

Satish Seemar has saddled five Meydan winners across the first two meetings and three of those winners are back in action beginning with Genius Step who concedes weight to eight rivals in a 1200m handicap.

A course and distance winner four weeks ago, he also won the equivalent race on the all-weather surface at Meydan on this card last year.

Another Seemar winner from that opening Meydan meeting of the season is Cross Grain, impressive winner of a 1400m maiden on his debut.

He steps up to 1600m and tackles handicap company on this occasion.

A fortnight ago, Tahaamah, having his first start for Seemar, landed a 2000m handicap and will bid to repeat the trick in an identical race. Stable jockey, Richard Mullen, currently leading the jockeys’ championship with Seemar top of the trainers’ standings, rides all three.

“It has been a great start to the season and just reward for a big team effort,” said Mullen. “We always liked Genius Step and he has won three of his five starts for us. Hopefully he is still improving. Cross Grain had been working well before his debut and did it well but this is far lot tougher task. We will find out where we stand with him.

“Tahaamah was useful for Godolphin and made the perfect start for us having been off the track since October 2013. Hopefully he can build on that.”

The meeting opens with the first Purebred Arabian contest on the new Meydan Racecourse dirt surface, the 1600m prep race for the Mazrat Al Ruwayah.

Last year’s winner (on the all-weather), Bigg N Rich is back for trainer Eric Lemartinel and his six rivals include Quite A Show, trained by Doug Watson and winner of the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah itself in December 2012.

Watson’s charge has not won since but does have a touch of class, having previously won the Group 1 Liwa Oasis on the Abu Dhabi turf in March 2012.

Shateh looks the best of two runners for Majed Al Jahouri, with Calleteral appearing to hold the strongest claims of the Ernst Oertel-trained duo.

General Admission is free on race nights and hospitality tickets start at Dh50 for Premium Seating and Dh100 for Parade Ring Lounge. Tickets may be purchased on the night.

For more information please click on www.dubairacingclub.com. Gates open at 5pm the first race starts at 645pm and hospitality areas open at 6pm.

To view the race calendar at Meydan or the past performance for Thursday’s runners, please visit www.emiratesracing.com.

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