Mystique Moon shines to eclipse opposition in Jebel Ali feature

Jebel Ali Racecourse staged its first race of the new season on Friday afternoon with the seven races highlighted by a 1400m handicap won stylishly by Mystique Moon, partnered by Sam Hitchcott, opening his account for the campaign for Doug Watson.

One of a trio in the field for owner Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the 5-year-old Shamardal gelding was settled in just behind the leaders before storing to the front inside the final 300m, pulling clear and with the race soon in safe keeping. Victorious, as a 3-year-old, in both his first two career starts, on all-weather surfaces in Britain for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, this was a third UAE success and second over this course and distance, having also won over 1700m at Sharjah.

“He is a really nice horse, we hope one for the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan and, because he likes it here, perhaps the Jebel Ali Mile,” Watson said.
“We will see what the handicapper does and look for a race, but not for a month or so with next year in mind.”

Hitchcott added: “We expected him to need the run and he did; he was tiring close home, but he is a nice little horse and one who probably appreciates a bit of time between his races.”

A lesser 1400m handicap appeared at the mercy of Rich And Famous who skipped clear under Xavier Ziani just over halfway, having led from the outset, only to have victory snatched from his clutches in the closing stages by Mutawakked.

In doing so, the 5-year-old Zodiac gelding, after 11 unsuccessful UAE attempts, doubled his career tally by adding to a 2016 Newbury success when trained by Brian Meehan. This win also contributed to first victories of the new campaign for owner His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri and jockey Szczepan Mazur.

Champion jockey in his native Poland, Mazur was delighted with the result and said: “I was a long way behind early on, but the horse really finished well up that hill and I am very grateful to ride a winner for these connections.”

The owner’s world famous blue and white silks were soon back in the winner’s enclosure, this time worn by Sandro Paiva who partnered Tafaakhor to a hard fought success in the 1800m handicap which followed for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.

Having refused to settle in the first part of the race when fighting his jockey, the 5-year-old Dark Angel gelding gained the initiative halfway up the long straight before responding to Paiva’s urgings in the final 200m to hold off the determined challenge of Dolmen.

It was a fourth victory for Tafaakhor, second locally, but first on dirt and adding to a British brace in 2017 for Richard Hannon and an Abu Dhabi victory in December last year.

Al Rayhi and Saiva combined on the opening night at Meydan with Secret Trade and it was a second win of the campaign for both with the jockey saying: “We knew the horse was in good form, but his dirt form was not good, so that was a nice surprise.”

Satish Seemar and Richard Mullen combined to win the very first meeting of the new campaign at Meydan with Barack Beach and repeated the feat by taking the opening 1200m maiden, restricted to 3-year-olds, with Lady Parma. Owned by The Parmar Family, witnessing their silks carried to victory for a third time in the UAE, the daughter of Exchange Rate was the only filly among the ten runners, but always appeared the likely winner under a confident Mullen.

Having chased early leader Galaxy Road, Mullen sent the filly for home about 250m out and the pair never looked in danger of being denied what was a first victory at the sixth attempt for Lady Parma, who was third in the Listed UAE 1000 Guineas at Meydan on her third outing, the second of two ‘bronze medals’ she collected during her first campaign racing.

“This is our first Jebel Ali winner, so we are delighted,” Hicky Parmar said. “We campaigned her aggressively last season and hope to have a lot more fun with her.”

Seemar added: “It looked a decent maiden, but we were pretty confident as it was the first time we have been able to run her over a sprint trip and she is all about speed.

Jockey and trainer appeared set to complete a rapid double when Majestic Thunder hit the front entering the final 200m of the following 1200m maiden for horses aged four or above, only to be denied close home by Tabernas, continuing the fine start to the campaign made by jockey Connor Beasley, who was registering a fourth success of the season.

Riding for his main local employer, Ahmad bin Harmash and sporting the silks of Abdulla Saeed bin Huzaim, Beasley produced the 4-year-old gelded son of Dawn Approach to lead in the final 50m to open his account at the ninth attempt, fifth in the UAE and third at Jebel Ali.

Beasley said: “This is a horse we have always really liked and that fast gallop today really suited him as he will be better over further. Now he has finally won hopefully he can progress.

Seemar and Beasley then combined to great effect in the main support race, a 1200m handicap in which Night Castle, owned by Ali Haddad, hit the front with 400m remaining and fought bravely to just repel the late challenge of Taamol. Settled just behind a frantic early gallop, Beasley always appeared to be travelling strongly, before being left in front when the early leaders weakened and found a willing partner when challenged close home.

A 4-year-old Dubawi gelding, Night Castle won twice on all-weather surfaces in Britain for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, but was registering a first local victory at the sixth attempt over the shortest trip he has ever tackled.

Seemar said: “We ran him over further last season judged on his British form, but decided to drop him in trip this time and Connor actually thinks 1000m here at Jebel Ali would be ideal for him.”

The longest and final race on the card, a 1950m handicap, was run at a generous gallop which showed at the death with the finish fought out between Hello, winner of the race last year and Cranesbill, a maiden no more having hit the front in the final 75m. A 5-year-old gelding by Kitten’s Joy, he was winning for the first time, at the 17th attempt and 15th locally, to put both trainer Erwan Charpy and jockey Fabrice Veron on the scoresheet for the first time this season.