High On Life Seeks Repeat Feature Race Victory at Jebel Ali Opener on Friday

Jebel Ali Racecourse stages its first meeting of the season on Friday afternoon, the third fixture of the new 2019/20 UAE campaign and highlighted by a competitive 1400m handicap. A field of 13 have been declared for this race, including High On Life and Riflescope, first and second in the equivalent race last year.

Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum, High On Life has ten career victories to his name, five in the UAE and four at Jebel Ali having also been successful on the 1200m turf course at Meydan. An 8-year-old gelded son of Invincible Spirit, this will actually only be his second run over as far as 1400m and, as was the case last year, he has the assistance of Royston Ffrench, seeking a fifth win on the horse, in the saddle.
“We know he likes it at Jebel Ali and he showed he stays 1400m last year in this race,” Ffrench said. “He seems in good form at home and should run well in a strong race.”

Riflescope, the mount of Jose Santiago, is one of three runners for Satish Seemar whose stable jockey Richard Mullen, aboard in this race when narrowly failing to catch High On Life last year, opting to partner Bochart. The trainer’s third contender, Above Normal, is to be ridden by Szcepan Mazur.

With Seemar enjoying a double at the Meydan’s curtain raiser last Thursday, the yard has made a bright start to the campaign and all three are respected in an open race.

Nicholas Bachalard trains at Jebel Ali, primarily for racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and they are represented by Haalick with UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea aboard in his new role as retained jockey. A 6-year-old Roderic O’Connor gelding, he won twice in Britain when trained by Roger Varian, including the 1400m Listed Spring Cup Stakes on the Lingfield Polytrack in March 2016. His four UAE outings in 2017 were all on turf, so this, his first public appearance since Abu Dhabi’s Listed National Day Cup in December of that year, will be his dirt debut.

“He has been working well, but will be entitled to improve for the run after almost two years off,” Bachalard said. “He is a nice horse and whatever he achieves on Friday we are hoping he can have a good season.”

Fresh from a fruitful 2018/19 season when he won five times, including once over this 1400m course and distance, Rocket Power returns to action with Connor Beasley, currently heading the jockeys’ championship with three winners, in the saddle for Ahmad bin Harmash.

The trainer said: “He is as fit as we can get him for his first run back and he is in good form, but should benefit from the outing. He likes Jebel Ali and we are hoping for a good run.”

Beasley’s mount is owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti as are Mystique Moon and Just A Penny, both trained by Doug Watson who said: “We are happy with both our runners with the 1400m probably better for Mystique Moon, but there is not a suitable race over further for Just A Penny until much later in the year.
“They are both ready for a run and have been working well, so hopefully, go there with every chance on a course they like.”

The race is sponsored by Shadwell, the UK arm of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose own blue and white silks will be carried by three runners with Dane O’Neill, returning to the UAE for the first time this season and retained by the owner, opting to partner Eqtiraan for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. A 5-year-old gelded son of Helmet, Al Rayhi’s charge, like Haalick, is another making his debut after a long absence from action, in his case 601 days having finished fifth in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday in March 2018.

O’Neill will be sporting the owner’s first cap with blue and white stripes, with Zainhom, prepared by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, to be ridden by Antonio Fresu under a red cap, suggesting he is the third string behind Tadbir, trained by Erwan Charpy, whose jockey, Fabrice Veron, will carry the second colours, a black cap.

Yet to win in the UAE, after just three attempts, Charpy’s runner was runner-up, over this 1400m track and trip, on both Jebel Ali outings and the French trainer said: “He showed last season he handles the surface at Jebel Ali and was beaten by two good horses.

“This is a strong race, but we are very happy with him and looking forward to running him.”

On his Jebel Ali debut Tadbir chased home the aforementioned Rocket Power before, six weeks later, finding only stable companion Pinter too strong. The latter makes his seasonal return in the main support race, a 1200m handicap, in which he faces 14 rivals seeking to add to his four consecutive course victories last season.

Those attending Jebel Ali on Friday should take note of the early start time with the first of seven races due off at 1.45pm.