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UAE stars in Chengdu action

05/04/2018
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SATURDAY is the 2018 edition of the Chengdu Dubai International Cup, the fifth running of the 2218m handicap at Jinma Lake in the Wenjiang District of Chengdu, China. The annual event features horses, jockeys and trainers from the Dubai Racing Club. For the second year, the five race card will include two races designated as a jockey challenge with local Chinese jockeys competing against the visiting internationals. Last year’s meeting was particularly well received with more than 6000 people in attendance on raceday when the local jockeys came close to beating their more experienced international counterparts, but were certainly very successful in showcasing the Chinese competitive spirit.

Wenxun Wang became the first Chinese jockey to win a race in the event after victory in the Wenjiang Spirit last year, a 1400m handicap, aboard the Maria Ritchie-trained Damar who is back in the same race this year but to be ridden by Richard Mullen. Reigning UAE Champion Trainer Doug Watson, as well as former title holders Erwan Charpy, Satish Seemar, Musabbeh Al Mheiri and Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, are among the trainers whose horses will feature on Saturday. Al Mheiri currently leads the tally as most successful trainer with six wins, while among the jockeys it is Adrie de Vries ahead of the rest on four. However, the ‘Flying Dutchman’ is not in action this year but reigning and previous UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea and Richard Mullen are, along with the likes of Pat Dobbs, Antonio Fresu and Fernando Jara.

As mentioned, Damar won the 7f handicap last year for Ritchie and Wang who partners Paranormal for Watson this time. The horse also won the same race in 2016, for Al Mheiri, when partnered by Xavier Ziani and will be having his first outing since his victory in this last year. Now back in the care of Al Mheiri, Damar was chased home by Crowdmania, trained by Al Rayhi and again in opposition. Neither horse has run since this race last year. Skygazer may not be back to attempt a defence of his crown in the featured 2218m Dubai International Cup but the runnerup, Start Right, is in the field having won the race in 2016 for Satish Seemar.

Stable jockey Richard Mullen, aboard for that victory, partners stablemate Moonlight Dash with apprentice Adam McLean aboard Start Right. Dobbs partners Tried And True for Watson who also saddles Storm Belt, sixth last year, under O’Shea with Sam Hitchcott aboard the trainer’s third runner, Dehbashi. The concluding Meydan Classic, a 1600m handicap, was won 12 months ago by Muhtaram, ridden by Rosales for Ritchie and the pair will attempt a repeat, this time for Al Mheiri. His stable companion, Special Boy, third both last year and in 2016, also won a 1400m handicap on this card in both 2014 and 2015. He is completing his ‘ever present’ record at the fixture, hoping to gain revenge on Muhtaram. O’Shea rides him with stable jockey, Jara, aboard Billingsgate.

Dobbs and Watson combine with Stunned, Mullen rides Portamento for Al Rayhi but, in all reality, the most interesting runner on the whole card, at least for international recognition, is Dream Dubai. The mount of Fresu, he will be a first Chengdu runner for South African legend, Mike de Kock.

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05 Apr 2018
Issue Number: Issue 643
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