Secret Ambition Takes Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile

The biggest race of the Jebel Ali season, Friday afternoon’s Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile, proved ultra-competitive with five of the nine runners holding realistic claims at the 200m pole, where Secret Ambition was charging for home under Richard Mullen. Rocket Power, seeking a fourth consecutive Jebel Ali victory and fifth in total having won at Meydan last Saturday, loomed as a serious challenger, as did local debutant Behavioral Bias, like Secret Ambition trained by Satish Seemar.

Seeking a third win in the race, Forjatt then threatened on the outside while last year’s winner, Shamaal Nibras, was stuck in traffic behind Rocket Power and Behavioral Bias, finally extricated by Pat Dobbs inside the final 150m. However, Secret Ambition was not for catching, despite Dobbs’ mount gaining quickly in the closing stages, providing Seemar a fifth Jebel Ali Mile, but a first for Mullen.

A delighted Mullen, sporting the green and yellow checked silks of Nasir Askar, said: “It was about time I had a bit of luck in this race and I have picked the right one today, so it is great to get a win in what is a big race here in the UAE. He has looked marvellous all season, but has had a few problems with the stalls and everything fell into place today. I am delighted for the whole team at Zabeel Stables and for the owner who is a great supporter of the yard.”

Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri for Galaxy Racing, Kunani won at the second consecutive Jebel Ali meeting and third time at the course this season when leading in the final 100m of the opening 1800m handicap. The maximum field allowed, 16, may have gone to post, but very few were ever in contention with Jazirat setting what looked a generous gallop before being headed by Arroway 500m out, about the same time as Kunani loomed into the picture under Ben Curtis. A 1400m winner at the very first meeting of the campaign in late October, he was successful over 1600m two weeks ago and stayed on strongly over the extra 200m to pass Arroway in the final 100m.

Curtis, aboard for all three victories, said: “The wide draw was actually an advantage with this horse because he does not like being crowded, but has plenty of pace to be able to get a good position. He has been kept busy, but clearly loves it here at Jebel Ali.”

Denied aboard Arroway, Xavier Ziani only had to wait 30 minutes for compensation when partnering stable companion Bois De Boulogne to victory for Sandeep Jadhav in the 1950m conditions race which followed. In a field of just five, the winner’s stable companion Galles made much of the running, skipping clear fully 1300m out, but powerless to thwart the challenge of Ziani’s mount passing the 200m pole. Dobbs and Dehbashi tried to bridge the gap, but the post appeared in time for Bois De Boulogne.

Jadhav said: “It was only a small field, so we thought both ours had good chances and they have both run very well at a course that suits them.”

Ziani added: “I know this horse very well, so was delighted when I found out I was riding him again because he loves Jebel Ali and stays well as he has done today.”

Third on Galles, Royston Ffrench then went two places better in the 1000m conditions contest aboard High On Life, completing a quick double for Jadhav. Again, only five runners took their chance and, having blazed from the stalls, High On Life was soon in front with most of his rivals in trouble at halfway. An 8-year-old Invincible Spirit gelding, he was headed briefly by Yard Line, but was soon back in front and never looked likely to be caught, always holding the late challenge of Shajjy, seeking to complete a double for Al Mheiri and Curtis.

“This is another of our horses who loves it here at Jebel Ali,” Jadhav said. “He is much better on a straight track, as he showed winning on the turf at Meydan, but does not handle the bend there on the dirt track.”

Ffrench added: “He made my job easy because he is a horse with so much tactical speed and has done that pretty easily.”

Pinter became the third winner from a fortnight ago to follow up, comfortably taking the 1400m handicap under Antonio Fresu, riding for Erwan Charpy.

Having settled him in midfield, Fresu switched the 7-year-old Exceed and Excel gelding to the centre of the track to make his challenge and they swept clear for a third consecutive Jebel Ali meeting victory. A month ago, the pair won over this 1400m, at the previous meeting over 1200m.

Charpy said: “He is just a lovely horse, not the most straightforward at the races in the past, almost losing his chance before the race, but he has matured this season and is showing his true ability.”

Fresu added: “This horse just loves it up the hill, be it 1200m or 1400m and we had a lovely low weight today on a horse who is thriving.”

The Italian jockey then produced a virtual carbon copy ride to land the 1200m handicap aboard Iftitah, not only completing a double for himself, but also for Seemar and delighted owner, Askar. A 5-year-old Harbour Watch gelding, he too had won his previous start, in his case a 1400m Al Ain handicap three weeks ago.

Askar said: “It has been a great afternoon to land a double including the Jebel Ali Mile and a big thank you to Satish and all his team.”

The concluding 1200m maiden produced a comfortable winner in the form of Atta Alla, a belated first winner of the season for Jesus Rosales riding for Rashed Bouresly. A 6-year-old Archipenko horse, he was always prominent on the far side before quickening clear at the 400m pole to make start number 13 a lucky one.