Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile The Summit Upon Return To The Hill

Having been forced to postpone three meetings due to concerns regarding the racecourse surface, racing returns to Jebel Ali on Friday after a successful trial involving 13 horses on Tuesday morning. This will be the first race meeting at the venue since the end of November and just in time for the track’s biggest race of the season, the 1600m Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile. Generously sponsored by Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s breeding empire, the AED575,000 race is worth AED345,000 to the winner and has unsurprisingly attracted a strong field of nine, including race regular Shamaal Nibras, one of three in the field for Doug Watson.

The veteran, now an 11-year-old, won the race in 2018 and has thrice finished second, including last year, in a race he has contested in each of the last five renewals since 2015.

Treble Jig won consecutive Jebel Ali Miles in 2012 and 2013, while both Forjatt (2014 and 2017) and Conflict (2001 and 2004) regained the crown. Four times a Jebel Ali winner, including two of the three editions of the 1400m Jebel Ali Classic (Silver Jubilee), Shamaal Nibras is the choice of Pat Dobbs leaving Sam Hitchcott to ride stable companion Mystique Moon with the spare ride on course specialist Just A Penny, Watson’s third runner, going to Dane O’Neill.

The latter two are owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti with all Just A Penny’s seven career victories achieved at Jebel Ali, over trips varying from 1200m to 1950m, but he has not won since March 2018. On his most recent appearance, over 1400m at the beginning of November, he was a long way behind Mystique Moon in a 1400m conditions race. That was a second win over the Jebel Ali course and distance for the 6-year-old, Mystique Moon who is five years younger than Shamaal Nibras, and two years junior to 8-year-old Just A Penny.

The veteran Shamaal Nibras is owned by EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club) whose spokesman Justin Byrne said: “This race has been his main early season target as we know conditions suit him so well. Obviously he is not getting any younger, but after two runs at Abu Dhabi, he should be spot on for this. He has been a real flagbearer for the syndicate and owes us nothing. He will tell us when he has had enough and we have a home sorted for him when he retires.”

Watson added: “Shamaal Nibras seems to save his best for Jebel Ali and seems in good shape. Mystique Moon and Just A Penny also both like it at Jebel Ali though the trip may now be on the sharp side for the latter.”

Also throwing three darts at the lucrative prize pot is Satish Seemar whose Secret Ambition denied Shamaal Nibras in this last year when stable companion Behavioral Bias, making his local debut, was third. Stable jockey Richard Mullen, winning his first Jebel Ali Mile 12 months ago, rides the 6-year-old this year, eight days after a promising return to action over an inadequate 1200m on the Meydan dirt surface last week. Tadhg O’Shea, who rode him last year, is aboard Yulong Warrior, winner as a 3-year-old of the 1900m Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday 2018 and who will be having his third start of the campaign since returning from a spell in the USA with Doug O’Neill. The spare ride on Seemar’s third runner, dirt debutant Seniority who is having his first start for the yard, goes to Antonio Fresu.

Seemar said: “Seniority works well on our dirt track at Zabeel Stables, but this is obviously a different surface, so will see how he goes. It is a first Jebel Ali race for Yulong Warrior, but we hope the hill will suit him and we know Behavorial Bias is proven under these conditions, so hopefully they can all run well.”

To be ridden by Royston Ffrench and saddled by Salem bin Ghadayer, Chiefdom is defending an unbeaten Jebel Ali record, winning handicaps twice over this 1600m in November. The 5-year-old also won his most recent outing, over 1600m on the Meydan turf.

Bin Ghadayer said: “He is in good shape and we are looking forward to running him, but it is the first meeting on a reworked Jebel Ali surface, so nobody is certain how it is going to ride compared to the old one.”