Au Coeur All Heart In Return

Racing at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday afternoon was officially highlighted by a quality 1200m handicap, won determinedly by Au Coeur, a first UAE winner for talented apprentice jockey Sean Kirrane, who was riding for Satish Seemar and wearing the silks of syndicate Touch Gold Racing. Always prominent from the outset, the 5-year-old gelded son of Invincible Spirit hit the front with about 400m remaining, kicked clear when asked and held off a strong rally from Pennsylvania Dutch and yard-mate Above Normal. In fourth was returning Group 3 winner My Catch, who ran respectably to lose by 3¼ lengths.

The victory, a third in Au Coeur’s career, came after a 13-month layoff and earned him four pounds to a rating of 89. The time was a spritely 1:10.99.

“He did that well today and everything went right because we know he stars further,” Kirrane said. “I can only thank the Seemars and owners, Touch Gold Racing, for this opportunity. We broke well and were always up there. When I needed more, I had a very willing partner who gave me everything he could.”

Mike Kaye, Touch Gold Racing principal, said: “The horse had been off just over a year so we have to be very happy with that. He needs time between his races, so we will probably look for something back here at Jebel Ali in early January.”

The meeting kicked off with a 1400m maiden that attracted a field off 11 but in which few were ever able to get involved. At halfway, Dirilis Ertugral looked in big trouble, but with 500m remaining, suddenly loomed into contention. Having hit the front with 300m remaining, he was never going to be beaten.

Trained by Ismail Mohammed, for whom it was a first winner of the season, the 4-year-old gelded son of Overanalyze was winning at the 11th attempt and has only raced in the UAE.

Winning jockey Fabrice Veron, who allowed himself a little celebratory punch as they crossed the line, said: “I think this straight track is the key for this horse; he just does not seem to like the turn. We knew he had a good chance today, but the straight is definitely what he prefers and it all worked out well today.”

Originally the first reserve, Kidd Malibu took full advantage of his opportunity to contest the 1400m handicap, powering home under Sandro Paiva to double his career tally having landed a course and distance maiden in February 2017. Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 6-year-old gelded son of Malibu Moon chased the early pace before taking the lead 300m out. He was chased home by the same owner’s Etisalat, saddled by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

“This is obviously a great spare ride and I can only thank Mr Musabbah for the opportunity,” Paiva said. “We know the horse likes it here at Jebel Ali. Luckily, everything fell into place today.”

A fascinating 1000m juvenile maiden transpired to be a one-horse race with debutant Raakezz proving to be a different class to his ten rivals. Quickly into stride under Tadhg O’Shea, riding for the ‘home team’ of Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trainer Nicholas Bachalard, he was soon in front. From halfway, he had the race in safe keeping and extended beautifully up the hill. The 2-year-old son of Street Boss was a $410,000 OBS April purchase earlier this year.

“That is a big result for the whole team after about 11 months since our last winner,” Bachalard said. “We like this horse. He is, as you just saw, very quick and we will keep him to sprint trips for now.”

O’Shea added: “He is a bit of a character and the crowd set him off a bit, but once we were out on the track he was much more relaxed. That was a good performance and I guess we will keep him in sprints at the moment, but it is great for everyone to get a win on the board in these colours this season.”

Having failed to win after his first ten starts, despite running some massive races in defeat, Rayig finally put his head in front with a workmanlike victory in a 1600m maiden with Pat Dobbs in the saddle for Doug Watson and owner Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi. A 3-year-old Exceed and Excel colt, Rayig showed plenty of promise for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi last season before switching to Watson for this campaign, finishing an excellent second on his stable debut here at Jebel Ali over 1200m a month ago behind subsequent Meydan winner Lady Parma.

“That is only his second run for us and the first one was very good over 1200m, which would be probably plenty short enough for him, but he does show a lot of speed at home,” Dobbs said. “Now that he has put his head in front, you would hope he can build on this heading forward.”

What, on paper, appeared a competitive 1600m handicap was turned into a procession by Chiefdom, ridden by Royston Ffrench for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer and owner Sheikh Hasher Mohd Al Maktoum. Other than slightly missing the break, the 4-year-old gelded son of The Factor recovered and then was never headed. He kicked clear 300m out and ran out an easy winner to double his career tally after a course and distance maiden victory, his fourth start, a fortnight ago.

“Obviously, this was a big step up in grade but we thought he was ready for it and he has proved us right,” Ffrench said. “He is a young horse with few miles on the clock so, we hope, will continue to improve.”

Ffrench and Bin Ghadayer then looked set for a quick double when their Tailor’s Row shot clear halfway up the long Jebel Ali straight in the finale, a handicap over 1800m, but they had no response to the late challenge of King’s Shadow, a blueblood son of Distorted Humor and Vanity (G1) winner Love Theway Youare who wore down the aforementioned in the shadow of the wire. The victory was a third of the season for owner Sayed Hashish, who has finished in the top four with 10 of his 14 starters.