Billingsgate and Mujeeb target victorious end to 2018 in Abu Dhabi
Six races on the card for the final meeting of the year in the UAE capital
It is the Purebred Arabians and the thoroughbreds that dominate the card for final meeting of 2018 at Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
The concluding handicap for the thoroughbreds run over the 1,600 metres is a looks the most competitive that has drawn the maximum allowed field of 16 runners, with Billingsgate and Mujeeb heading the weights.
Billingsgate is returning to the track after going down narrowly to Ajwad and Azmaam over the 1,400m trip on his return four weeks ago, and Ben Curtis who was atop him believes he can improve from that run and be triumphant on Sunday.
“He ran very well the last time and has been training nicely since,” he said of the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained seven year old gelding.
“The way he was staying on suggests the extra 200m will suit him and we are expecting a big run.”
Mujeeb was a notable third behind Still Life and Initial from the most recent of his three starts this season in Jebel Ali 10 days ago and he too seems on a favourable mark.
The Dubawi colt starts from Gate 3 and a return to turf can provide his trainer Erwan Charpy his first winner of the season.
Mujeeb’s two career victories were on turf when he was trained in France by Freddy Head.
Doug Watson, the four-time UAE champion trainer fresh from his five victories at Meydan on Thursday, has three entered in the race.
Bowditch and Native Appeal both run in the silks of owner Mohammed Khalifa Al Basti, and Estikmaal in the silks of the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club syndicate.
Sam Hitchcott is on board Bowditch in the absence of stable jockey Pat Dobbs, who has taken time out to celebrate the Christmas festive period with the family in England.
The three-year-old gelding has won twice on all-weather surfaces in England for John Gosden, but is seeking a maiden turf victory on his second local start.
Adam McLean rides Native Appeal, and George Buckell partners Estikmaal, who was well beaten at Jebel Ali twice this season, but should appreciate the switch to turf.
“Native Appeal ran well at Meydan first time, but then just did not handle Jebel Ali,” said Watson.
“He is training very nicely, as are all three of mine. Bowditch we really like and, again, struggled at Jebel Ali, but will be much happier on turf. He will stay further, while Estikmaal is in great form.”
The action starts at Abu Dhabi on Sunday at 5pm, with the final race underway at 7.30pm.
Updated: December 22, 2018 11:52 AM