ABU DHABI // With the UAE trainer and jockey championships reaching their boiling point, much is on the line in tonight's final meeting at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
Ali Rashid al Raihe, the defending champion trainer, and his brother-in-law, Musabah al Muhairi, are locked on 30 winners each. Meanwhile, Wayne Smith leads the jockey's race by two over last year's champion, Tadhg O'Shea.
Al Raihe's best opportunity to take the lead today appears to be Monte Alto in the Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship. Monte Alto was last year's winner of the Emirates Championship for thoroughbreds.
"He is in good shape and has a pretty good record going into this race, having won three of his last four races over the distance," al Raihe said.
He played down the rivalry for the trainers' title. "It really doesn't matter because there is no competition between us," he said. "Musabah has had a remarkable season and if he becomes the champion trainer, then he is the deserving person."
Regardless of today's results, the championship likely will not be decided until the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday. Both al Raihe and al Muhairi have runners on racing's richest day, with prize money of US$26.25 million (Dh96m).
O'Shea, the retained second jockey of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, rides on Monte Alto for the suspended Richard Hills.
Monte Alto, the seven-year-old gelded son of Danehill Dancer, was impressive when winning a prep race three weeks ago before finishing fifth behind the Godolphin runner Emirates Champion at Meydan Racecourse on March 10. He will have most to fear from the Mike de Kock pair of Mr Brock, ridden by Kevin Shea, Hunting Tower (Frankie Dettori), and Meeris.