ABU DHABI // The Emirates Championships, a Group 1 prize for Purebred Arabians, and the Abu Dhabi Championship, a Group 3 event for thoroughbreds, are the highlights of tonight's final meeting at the capital's racecourse.
Slated as the last two races in the six-race card, they have both drawn competitive fields and are expected to bring intriguing battles over the 2,200m distances.
However, apart from the two main prizes, the third-last meeting of the UAE season has also created massive interest in the UAE jockeys' and trainers' championships.
Tadhg O'Shea is well placed to retain the jockey's crown as he leads Richard Mullen by four while Musabah Al Muhairy, Ernst Oertel, Ali Rashid Al Raihe, and Satish Seemar are locked in a close battle for the trainer's title.
Al Muhairy took his tally to 32 and moved to the top of the table after saddling a winner at Sharjah yesterday.
Oertel has some fancied runners in the first three races in tonight's card while Al Raihe and Seemar will hope for big runs from Derbaas and Malthouse respectively in the concluding race for the thoroughbreds.
Majed Al Jahouri, who dominated the Group 1 prizes in Abu Dhabi, has a strong hand with four entered for the Dh200,000 feature prize.
Rasikh looks the pick of the quartet with Ahmed Ajtebi booked. The six year old went down to stable companion Jarnin over the course and distance but the latter finished a long way behind him in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 in his last start at Meydan Racecourse.
Harry Bentley rides Musharab, twice fourth this year in Group 1 company, while Mullen is on board Ghalib, who holds strong credentials on what will be his second local start. The five year old was well beaten in the Maktoum Challenge but is expected to appreciate the return to turf.
"It is a nice spare ride certainly and his turf form in Europe is pretty good and a repeat of that would give him a big chance," Mullen said.
The Abu Dhabi Championship has drawn nine entries, including two past winners Mulaqat and Topclas.
Topclas, fifth last year, won the race in 2011 and has been running well in defeat at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. "Obviously the horses are running well and Topclas has been in good form at home. He should run well," said Adrie de Vries, the jockey.
Mulaqat won the race in 2008 and is joined by stable companion Dormello, the mount of stable jockey James Doyle, riding for his main employer Dhruba Selvaratnam.
"Mulaqat is 10 now but ran well in the prep and deserves another chance in this race but Dormello is probably our best hope," the Jebel Ali trainer said.
Mulaqat was second in that prep, a race won by the Seemar-trained Malthouse. "That was a good win last time and these are his optimum conditions so he should go close but it is obviously a better race with stronger opposition," Mullen said.
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