Chiefdom Holds Off Shamaal Nibras In G3 Jebel Ali Mile

Having been forced to postpone their three previous planned fixtures, racing returned to Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon after the track surface had been refurbished (since last raced on at the end of November). Friday was the biggest meeting of the season, the 1600m Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile, which was won stylishly by Chiefdom, arguably the most progressive horse of the domestic season to date.

Royston Ffrench, sporting the silks of Sheikh Hasher Mohd Al Maktoum, was content to take a lead from Dane O’Neill and course specialist Just A Penny, seeking an eighth Jebel Ali victory, before passing him with fully 600m to go. However, that rival fought back to lead again with the pair involved in real tussle until the final 200m when Just a Penny cried enough, leaving Chiefdom in the clear. Veteran 11-year-old Shamaal Nibras, contesting the race for a sixth consecutive year, emerged from the track to try and add to his 2018 victory in the race, but for the fourth time, had to settle for the runners-up berth.

Ffrench said: “We always really liked this horse, who used to get upset at the races, but the team have done a great job with him. His season has been very special for all of us and I would have been happy to go to the front but Dane set a decent gallop so I settled just off him and then my fellow has picked up, battled well and ran on strongly. It is a great result for all concerned.”

The opening 1950m handicap, the first race on the refurbished surface, was won in gritty fashion by Hello, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti and settled in the middle of the 16 runners by Tadhg O’Shea with Tailor’s Row and Royston Ffrench bowling along happily at the head of affairs.

Halfway up the long straight it was apparent they had the vast majority of the opposition in trouble but O’Shea and Hello were making stealthy progress, throwing down a challenge inside the final 200m and gaining the initiative with about 100m remaining, condemning Tailor’s Row to a third consecutive second place finish here at Jebel Ali having finished in the same berth over 1600m and 1800m in November.

For Hello, a 7-year-old gelded son of Teofilo, it was a fifth career victory, third at Jebel Ali and second over course and distance and O’Shea, picking up a spare ride with stable jockey Fernando Jara injured.

O’Shea said: “It is great to be back at Jebel Ali and you can see from the crowds just how popular it is and how much it has been missed. It is a shame for Fernando to miss this ride, but a lovely spare ride for me and we know the horse likes it here. Credit to the racecourse management; they have done a lot of remedial work and it is much better. There will always be kickback, but it is much finer now and no danger to horses or jockeys.”

Pat Dobbs gave Right Flank a supremely confident ride in the 1800m handicap, settling him well off the early pace before easing him into contention, just behind a leading group of seven, with 600m remaining. Electing to go to the far rail, he was soon in second and chasing Arroway, who had kicked clear about 400m out. It was soon apparent they would reel that rival in, which they did just inside the final 100m, to win going away.

Owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) and saddled by Doug Watson, the 6-year-old entire son of War Front had shed his maiden tag, at the tenth attempt, on his penultimate start at Jebel Ali in November.

Watson said: “That is a good result for everyone concerned and well done to Jebel Ali because the surface is much better. They are an enthusiastic bunch of owners and we will keep this horse here at Jebel Ali because he much prefers it here to Meydan.”

EERC spokesman Justin Byrne added: “It was disappointing we lost three meetings here, but it is nice to be back because he really likes it here. We had to be patient with him after a few niggles but Doug and his team have done well and Pat gets on well with him.”

Only seven went to post for the 1000m handicap which developed into a duel over the final 300m between local debutant Alkaraama, soon out in front under Jim Crowley, and Leading Spirit, settled in midfield before being asked to close entering the second half of the dash by Richard Mullen. The latter hit the front passing the 200m pole with Crowley’s mount trying to fight back but unable to go with the winner who scored going away for Satish Seemar and owner Mohd Khaleel Ahmed, doubling his career tally in the process. This was a fourth UAE outing for the 4-year-old Exceed and Excel gelding, having previously won once from five starts in Britain for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby.

“It is great racing is back here at the people’s racecourse,” Seemar said. “It is such a popular venue and was sorely missed. This horse loves it here and will be back, probably with the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint as his main target.”

Pat Cosgrave always looked to be travelling best aboard Ode to Autumn in a 1400m handicap and, once they cruised to the front about 450m from home they never looked likely to be caught completing doubles for owner Al Basti and trainer Seemar who actually saddled the 1-2-3. A 5-year-old gelded son of Showcasing, it was a third career success for Seemar’s charge but first in the UAE, at the sixth attempt.

“This horse has had a few issues with the stalls,” Seemar said. “But Pat has done very well on him today and that is a great result for the owner and, of course, for the yard with a memorable 1-2-3.”

A 1200m conditions event for 3-year-olds only, was contested by a field of seven of which only Last Surprise was a previous winner and, despite carrying a penalty after two victories in Britain, added a third success, desperately clinging on to deny both Puzzle Elegance and Hamama who threw down challenges in the final 100m and 50m respectively. A 3-year-old No Nay Never filly trained by Simon Crisford for Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, she was a dual winner in Britain and was scoring here on her Jebel Ali debut, having struggled in the 1400m UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan, providing James Doyle a success on his only mount of the afternoon.

Assistant trainer Edward Crisford said: “She was drawn wide at Meydan and did not enjoy the kickback so we thought this track and stiff 1200m would suit her and she has shown a really good, battling attitude to win again.”

Trainer Al Rayhi bookended the card, adding the finale, a 1200m handicap to the earlier victory of Hello, this time combining with Sandro Paiva, who drove Daltrey to the front with 400m remaining in what proved a race winning move. Previously a maiden after 12 starts, six locally the 5-year-old gelded son of Iffraaj, owned by Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, had finished third, over this course and distance, on both previous outings this season in November.