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Time Out is favourite for Simpson

There is still a lot to be decided in the final three meetings in the 2008-9 UAE racing season.

ABU DHABI // With just two more meetings to follow at the Capital's racecourse after this evening's seven-race card, racing in the UAE for the 2008-09 season is steadily drawing to a close. But a lot has still to be decided - although the reigning Champion Trainer Doug Watson looks certain to retain that crown. However, the Al Asayl-based Englishman Rod Simpson - in his first season in the post - holds a healthy lead in the Purebred Arabian trainers' table and with racing drawing to a close, he will be hard to catch. Tonight's feature is the Group 1 Liwa Oasis, over seven furlongs, and, given the ammunition at his disposal, it is interesting Simpson relies on Time Out. He explains: "He is improving and deserves this chance. We do have other nice horses but the have other big race targets so Time Out gets to step into the limelight."

However, Watson's Quaolina, under Richard Hills appears the most likely winner and the trainer said: "She made a pleasing first start and has been working well since - so we have to be hopeful." A win in that would propel Hills into serious contention for the most open UAE jockeys' title in recent memory with no less than eight jockeys separated by five winners and only five meetings left apart from World Cup night. William Buick and Fernando Jara both have 21 winners to their name and are in the driving seat, but Hills, Daragh O'Donohoe and Richard Mullen could all make a serious late challenge.

Jara could get an early advantage on Watson's Razin in the opening maiden, while Mullen looks to have a strong book of rides throughout. Buick is an interesting booking by Oman-based Julian Smart, previously 'King of Abu Dhabi' for Quorman Des Vialettes in a 12-furlong handicap. jsullivan@thenational.ae

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