Dubai: The race for the UAE flat-racing titles looks to be wide open following last week’s double header at Meydan, where several contenders scored notable wins on two action-packed race days.
It looks like its all to play for in the trainer’s division, with joint-leaders Ali Rashid Al Raihe and Ernst Oertel (28 wins each) being hotly pursued by Musabah Al Muhairi (26) and the irrepressible Satish Seemar, who made ominous moves on Saturday when saddling a two-timer to take his tally to 23.
Al Raihe, who at the start of the season enjoyed an amazing run of success largely due to the excellent form of his stable, is battling hard to hold on to the initiative. The Emirati handler had to wait until the concluding race of the night on Saturday, the Al Basti Equiworld Hygain Trophy, before he could head into the next week’s action with a share of the lead with Purebred Arabian specialist Oertel.
But it was Seemar, who oversees two training yards in Dubai — one at Zabeel Stables, where he has approximately 100 horses, and another at the Millennium Stables, which houses around half that number — who was the big winner on Saturday. The four-time UAE champion handler landed a well-earned double with Dubai Iconic, a smart two-length winner of the Al Basti Equiworld Foran Cup and the sprinter Seachantach, who upset all calculations to run away with the Al Basti Equiworld Bluefrog Trophy.
A veteran of 25 races in the UAE, Seachantach benefited from a confident front-running effort by apprentice jockey Marc Monaghan to win a race that saw five horses finish almost in a line behind the winner and runner-up Spirit Of Battle.
Irish youngster Monaghan was full of praise for the horse and his boss, saying: “He has run so many brave races in defeat and really deserved that. He just has lots of natural speed and stays the trip well. He goes on dirt and the all-weather and turf, so he’s a nice horse to have in the yard.
“I would also like to thank Satish for the opportunity to ride such nice horses and for the patience he has shown all season.”
Meanwhile, another former champion, Doug Watson, saddled the first two home in the feature race of the night, the Al Basti Equiworld Al Basti Cup, with Jawhar holding off stable veteran Dr Faustus by a short-head in a close finish.
The winner was ridden by two-time British champion jockey Paul Hanagan, who took his tally of winners for the season to 16, which left him poised in fifth place behind defending champion Tadhg O’Shea (22), Wayne Smith (19), Richard Mullen (19) and Dane O’Neill (18) in the jockeys’ standings.
Abdullah Bin Huzaim began the night on a winning note when he sent out Midnight Moon to win the Al Basti Equiworld Cup under Dane O’Neill.