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Thirteen may have gone to post for the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint on Friday afternoon but, from just after halfway, the race had developed into a duel with Morawij ultimately repeating his victory of 2016 in the 1000m dash.
The contest virtually mirrored a course and distance conditions race run four weeks ago when Morawij, trained on the Jebel Ali track for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, clashed with Mushir.
However, on that occasion, Mushir, who was receiving weight, was able to lead close home but, at level weights this time, he was unable to wrestle the initiative from Chris Hayes and the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Morawij.
In landing this, Selvaratnam’s charge became the third dual winner of the race, a feat previously achieved by Russian Rock, in 2012 and 2013 and by Selvaratnam with Try Prospect in 1996 and 1997.
“I was always pretty confident in the race,” said Hayes. “There was just one moment, about a furlong out, when I had to get serious but he then really ran on strongly.
“You have to give Dhruba and his team a lot of credit as this horse had a bit of a setback last week and I was not certain he would even get here today."
“Thankfully it has all worked out well and it is a great result for everybody involved.”
Connections were then denied a famous double when their Forjatt, victorious in the track’s biggest race of the season, the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile, four weeks ago, had to settle for second in the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes.
Penalised for that big race victory, Forjatt and Hayes looked set to complete the brace but the Satish Seemar-trained Farrier, ridden by Richard Mullen, stayed on too strongly for them in the final 200m.
“He is a very good horse who was a very close second in this last year and has always worked like a star,” said Mullen. “It has just taken us a long time to really work out what he prefers in his races; last time at Meydan, on turf, we had a low draw and he did not like being crowded."
“So today I was determined to get a lead but give him plenty of space before setting sail for home a long way out as we know he stays well."
“He was second in Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta on turf last year and that would be an option but we could even think about the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on the same card.”
Having shown plenty of promise in four outings when trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, Kidd Malibu made his local and dirt debut a winning one with a smooth success in the opening 1400m maiden.
Having his first start for Musabbeh Al Mheiri and the mount of Jim Crowley, retained by the horse’s owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he was never far off the pace before striking for home 300m out.
The pair then never looked in much danger of being caught and his jockey was pleased.
“That was a good start to his UAE career and he has certainly handled the surface,” said Crowley. “It was his first run since July so he probably tired a bit close home, as he was entitled to, but he stayed the trip well and should progress.”
Just 30 minutes later it was the turn of Ajwad to lose his maiden tag, making virtually all in a 1200m handicap under Goran Mesetovic for Rashed Bouresly.
Having his ninth career outing, he had shown promise on several previous occasions, as well as having faced some very stiff tasks, but took full advantage of this opportunity under what may prove his optimum conditions.
“He is a horse we have always liked and has run some very good races,” said Bouresly. “We are delighted with that and expect him to keep performing well.”
Virtually last for most of the 1950m trip, the Erwan Charpy-trained Prince Suhail was produced to lead close home and land a handicap under stable jockey, Antonio Fresu.
“This horse likes to do things in his own time so I was happy to sit out the back as they went quick,” said Fresu. “He has then stayed on strongly in the straight and I was pretty confident from a fair way out.”
In total contrast, the finale, a 1600m handicap, was won by the Musabbeh Al Mheiri-trained Simple Attack who was never headed under Fernando Jara, bookending the card for the trainer.