Shamikh Represents Jebel Ali Team In Course Highlight Named In Honour Of Pat Smullen

Racing at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon is highlighted by the Pat Smullen Conditions Stakes, a race sponsored by the racecourse itself and named in honour of the former Jebel Ali Stables’ and multiple Irish Champion Jockey who sadly succumbed to cancer last year.

A 1600m conditions race restricted to 4-year-olds, the feature has attracted a field of 13, but is probably less competitive than the numbers would suggest with several appearing to hold little realistic chance.

Among the obvious exceptions is Shamikh, trained at the adjacent Jebel Ali Stables by Nicholas Bachalard for racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The Lea colt made a belated racecourse debut in November, winning a 1400m Jebel Ali maiden and added a conditions race over the same course and distance to his winning haul a month ago. Sandwiched in between his two victories was a moderate Meydan effort, but that was over 1900m, left-handed and under floodlights, a totally different scenario to his straight track Jebel Ali victories in afternoon daylight.

He does have to tackle the very sharp Jebel Ali bend for the first time, in a race at least, but will have worked around it as part of his preparation, so should not be caught out as so many others have been.

Bachalard said: “It is a great initiative by the racecourse to honour Pat Smullen who was a top stable jockey here and it is a race obviously the whole Jebel Ali family would like to win.

“Shamikh is a big horse, but we expect him to handle the bend and we know the surface suits him. The 1600m should not be an issue and we are hoping he can at least go close.”

Satish Seemar appears to supply two of the main dangers to the local hope with dual course and distance winner Mazagran who is joined in the field by Remorse, making both his dirt and local debut. The former easily won a maiden in early January before following up a fortnight later in a handicap, both over this 1600m track and trip. He then seemed not to stay 1950m when upped in class for the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes.

Regular jockey Tadhg O’Shea is again in the saddle and said: “The return to 1600m should certainly suit him and he is working well, so we have to be hopeful of a big run.”

Meanwhile, stable companion Remorse, the mount of Richard Mullen, will be having his first start for Seemar and Al Rashid Stables having previously scored once, from six starts, in France for Godolphin and Andre Fabre. As a son of Dubawi, the dirt surface is unlikely to be an issue.

Prior to his two course victories, Mazagran was third in a 1600m maiden won by Dark Of Night for Musabbeh Al Mheiri and Nasir Askar. That remains his sole career victory, but he was second, then third on his next two starts before disappointing last time, all at Jebel Ali.

As dual winners Mazagran and Shamikh are penalised accordingly as is Homespin, well beaten on both his local starts since joining Salem bin Ghadayer. Both outings were at Meydan, on dirt then turf, but he won twice in Britain for Mark Johnston, most recently a 1200m Glorious Goodwood handicap in August, so clearly has plenty of ability.

On official ratings, Alfareeq, should be a massive danger for Al Mheiri, Jim Crowley and the jockey’s main employer, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Victorious once in France, he will be hoping to make it third time lucky for his new trainer after two turf outings at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. The best of those was the first when only 12th, but not beaten far in a 1600m handicap on his local bow and, if taking to the Jebel Ali surface, he could be the fly in the ointment for those already proven under these conditions.

Officially, the main support race is a 1400m conditions race for 3-year-olds and six have been declared, all seeking a first career success.

For Sheikh Ahmed and Bachalard, Ryan Curatolo, also aboard Shamikh, partners Tahdeed who will be having his fourth start. Bachalard said: “There are not many races for the 3-year-olds, so this is a good opportunity and we think he has a good chance.”

Doug Watson saddles Uncle Hamed, runner-up in half of his four starts and dropping markedly in class after contesting the UAE 2000 Guineas most recently.

Watson said: “This looks a good spot for a horse we have always thought a lot of. Hopefully he can get his head in front.’

Also a dual runner-up, in his case from five starts for Salem bin Ghadayer, Rare Ninja was third when Tahdeed was fifth and Uncle Hamed eighth in a 1200m maiden won by subsequent UAE 2000 Guineas hero Mouheeb in December.