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Friday’s final meeting of the current Jebel Ali season was highlighted by the inaugural running of the AED250,000 Jebel Ali Silver Jubilee Stakes, a 1400m conditions contest, with a hard fought victory going to Shamaal Nibras.
Trained by Doug Watson, it was a deserved Jebel Ali success this year for the horse who was second in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile in January and third in the Listed 1950m Jebel Ali Stakes four weeks later.
With Tadhg O’Shea, sporting the silks of EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club), seemingly niggling at him just after halfway, he responded gamely in the final 400m, hitting the front just after the 200m pole and running on strongly.
“He deserved another win here at Jebel Ali after some big runs in the top races,” said O’Shea who, remarkably, was riding his first Jebel Ali winner of the season.
“I knew it was a great spare ride and have had a lot of luck in the past for both Doug and the owners. The whole team were pretty bullish and told me to ride him confidently.
“They were certainly vindicated as he has won that in decent fashion.”
The main support race was a 1200m conditions contest and High On Life, having his ninth UAE outing, opened his local account in style with Royston Ffrench in the saddle for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer.
Third on his previous course visit, in the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint over 1000m won by Morawij, he then blew the start behind the same rival in the 1200m Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday at Meydan.
He proved that to be just a blip and was always prominent on this occasion before quickening clear 300m out after which the race was over as a contest.
“He clearly likes it here at Jebel Ali and has won that nicely,” said Ffrench. “Hopefully he can build on this next season.”
Trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Top Clearance was the decisive winner of the longest race on the card, a 1950m handicap, in which he was ridden positively by stable jockey, Chris Hayes.
Never far off the pace, Hayes set sail for home fully 500m out and they soon had most of their 12 rivals in trouble before powering on strongly to record a comfortable victory.
“He was a Meydan Dubai World Cup Carnival winner over 1600m last year but seems to need further now,” said Hayes. “He stayed on well over 1800m here last time and has relished the extra 150m this afternoon.
“He is a decent horse and, now proven over this trip, has a few options open for him next season.”
The meeting opened with a handicap over 1800m in which Fernando Jara produced the Maria Ritchie-trained Gavroche with a decisive late challenge to deny the same owner’s Prince Suhail in the dying strides.
Both sport the lime green silks of Al Bait Mutawahed Team with the winner opening his local account at the ninth attempt.
“He stays really well this horse and ran up the hill strongly for me,” said Jara. “He has needed all of the 1800m and 1950m here would probably suit him.”
The owners were soon back in the winner’s enclosure after their Bochart made virtually all in the following 1400m handicap with Antonio Fresu in the saddle for Satish Seemar.
A 1200m Jebel Ali maiden winner at the beginning of the year, Fresu’s mount was recording consecutive victories and third in the UAE having landed a 1600m handicap at Meydan on his previous start eight days ago.
“He is a very tough horse who goes particularly well here at Jebel Ali but has proven himself versatile,” said Fresu. “My instructions were to get to the front and set a decent pace which I was able to do.”
The fixture and the Jebel Ali campaign with it ended with a 1200m handicap and apprentice Adam McLean drove Rocket Power, having just his second local start, to an easy victory.
Formerly trained in England by James Tate, he is now in the capable of hands of Helal Al Alawi and was fulfilling the promise shown on his UAE debut when third at Meydan, over 1400m, eight days ago.