Jebel Ali Classic Swan Song For Shamaal Nibras

Racing at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon, a bumper eight race card, is highlighted by the third renewal of the Jebel Ali Classic (Silver Jubilee), a 1400m conditions race won in 2017 (inaugural year) and again in 2019 by Shamaal Nibras. Trained by Doug Watson for EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club), the 11-year-old is to be retired after the race, having proved a wonderful servant for current connections. As well as winning this race twice, he also landed the 2018 Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile, a race in which he has also finished second three times, including this year. The gelded son of First Samurai was then fifth when weakening close home in the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes.

EERC are also represented by Cenotaph, having just his second start locally and since joining Erwan Charpy. He made his local bow on Super Saturday at Meydan in the 1200m Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal.

EERC spokesman, Justin Byrne said: “The plan has always been to retire Shamaal Nibras after this race and remains so. He has been a brilliant flagbearer for the syndicate and owes us nothing. It would be brilliant if he could go out with a win, but this does look a strong renewal. Cenotaph is a new horse and one we really like. We think the Jebel Ali straight track will suit him and he has won over 1400m on all-weather surfaces in Europe.”

Watson saddles five in the race, with stable jockey Pat Dobbs remaining loyal to Shamaal Nibras, having won this on him last year, as well as the 2017 Jebel Ali Mile. Sam Hitchcott, also based with Watson at Red Stables, is aboard Mystique Moon, a dual course and distance winner.

The spare ride on Thegreatcollection goes to Adrie de Vries with stable apprentice Adam McLean partners Matafaawit, like Watson’s fifth runner, Fanaar, owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and, from the owner’s five runners, the choice of retained jockey Dane O’Neill.

Watson, who has trained all three previous winners (including 2018 with Cosmo Charlie), said: “We have a nice bunch in a race we have been lucky in. Shamaal Nibras loves it at Jebel Ali and has been a great horse to have in the yard. Mystique Moon also goes well at Jebel Ali but Thegreatcollection is racing there for the first time, so we will see how he handles it. We have not had Fanaar long, but he is a nice horse having just his third start for us. This will be his dirt debut, but he works well on it at home and won on the all-weather in Britain.”

Satish Seemar saddles four among the maximum allowed field of 16, with stable jockey Richard Mullen opting for local debutant Medahim, thrice a winner in Britain. Tadhg O’Shea is aboard Pilgrim’s Treasure, a course and distance winner for the jockey on his penultimate start. Riflescope, the mount of Fernando Jara, with Ode to Autumn, a course and distance winner at both the latest two Jebel Ali fixtures, to be ridden by Fabrice Veron and completing the Seemar quartet.

Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “Medahim is a new horse, but he has been working very well and we are looking forward to running him. Ode to Autumn arrives in great form and Pilgrim’s Treasure is another course and distance winner, while Riflescope also goes well at Jebel Ali, so we hopefully have four strong chances.”

For Sheikh Hamdan, Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddles both Thammin and Tashweeq and said: “Both are training well, but this looks a strong race so we will be hoping for a bit of luck in the race.”

The main support race, also over 1400m, I restricted to 3-year-old fillies for which seven have been declared and again both Watson and Seemar dominate the numbers with a pair apiece. For Seemar, Mullen rides Madame Ellingtina with O’Shea aboard Amani Pico, the only previous winner among the septet and penalised accordingly. Dobbs has opted to ride Tapi Sioux for Watson with Hitchcott aboard stable companion Raahia.