Aside from the long-term goal of another UAE champion jockey title, Ted Durcan is looking to win this weekend's most competitive race when he rides Otaared at Jebel Ali today. Stepping in for the suspended William Buick, who rode Buccelatti to ninth place in the Group One Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase last weekend, he rates the horse as his best chance of a win at the meeting.
"I've got three rides, one for Gillian Duffield and two for Dhruba Selvaratnam," said Durcan, seven-time UAE champion jockey. "My horse in the second race, Otaared would be my most likely winner, but I have to say that race looks very competitive." Otaared is based at Selvaratnam's Jebel Ali yard and owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid. He comes into the seven-furlong contest on the back of a convincing three-and-three-quarter-length victory over the same distance at the end of last month and as the runner most familiar with the tricky course, must be considered a favourite.
"Looking at his form he looks a very nice ride," said Durcan. "But he's got some strong competition in this race, probably tougher than he faced last time." The horse is the son of Storm Cat - a leading American sire of Group 1-winning racehorses. The leading competition in the race comes in the guise of the Ahmed al Falasi-owned Jet Express, a course specialist who hit form two weeks ago, recording an easy win over Lucky Ray over a mile.
He looks like posing an extra threat considering he comes from the in-form yard of Ali Rashid al Raihe, who has accepted the winner's trophy five times in the last two Jebel Ali meetings. He is top weight and starts under Royston Ffrench. And when a trainer goes on a roll there is often the feeling that if he saddled the stable cat he could get a winner and Estihdaaf, al Raihe's second runner in this contest, is in with a chance.
Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, he is ridden by Tadhg O'Shea, and his narrow defeat to Aamaaq a week ago should not count against him. He won over the same distance at Jebel Ali in the opening meet and is classy enough for a repeat performance. The feature race, the Dh120,000 Derrinstown Stud Conditions race over nine furlongs, is the official prep outing for the Jebel Ali Stakes. Erwan Charpy will want to open his seasonal account with the highest-rated Mashaahed, another Sheikh Hamdan runner. He is unproven on dirt but produced good results in last season's Dubai Racing Carnival and was picked by O'Shea as the runner he feels will go best.
Doug Watson will be looking to storm back to winning ways at Jebel Ali with one of his four runners, Arqaam, Dynamic Saint, Shopton Lane or Rohaani. Daragh O'Donohoe takes the ride on Selvaratnam's Meeriss. email@example.com