Tenacious Tadbir Takes Jebel Ali Feature

Racing at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon was highlighted by a quality 1400m conditions race in which Tadbir produced a gutsy performance under Dane O’Neill, riding for his main employer His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with the pair never headed. Tadbir looked likely to be swamped when 3-year-olds Golden Jaguar and Habah loomed large about 500m out. However, Tadbir responded to his jockey’s urgings, soon seeing off those rivals, as well as the late-surging Karaginsky, who threw down the gauntlet in the final 200m, but he never looked like he was going to get there under Tadhg O’Shea.

A 4-year-old Kodiac gelding, it was a second career victory for the horse, to add to his 1200m all-weather victory at Chelmsford for Brian Meehan when also partnered by O’Neill. He has since joined Erwan Charpy and was second in two featured handicaps over this 1400m last season, but disappointed over the course and distance in a similar race two weeks ago.

A delighted Charpy said: “To be honest, we expected a much better effort last time, but he was never really able to get into the race. We decided, with the benefit of that race under his belt, to be positive on him. He is a decent little horse, but definitely is happier here on the straight course, so we will stick to what he does best and come back here.”

The owner was celebrating a double half an hour later when the1600m handicap produced a great race with at least six of the 11 runners holding every chance entering the final 300m. Ultimately, jockey Antonio Fresu delivered Zainhom with the decisive challenge for trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri. A homebred 5-year-old Street Cry gelding, his only previous victory was over 1400m as a 2-year-old at York in September 2016. Wearing a visor for the first time, he was always travelling well before quickening nicely when asked and showing a determined attitude once in front.

Fresu said: “We tried the visor on him at home and it helped so we stuck with it and it certainly helped him. I think he needed the run quite badly last time, so we were quite hopeful today and he is versatile because he is rated higher on turf.”

Virtually last at halfway in a field of nine that contested the 1200m handicap (Race 2), Tabernas and Connor Beasley made smooth headway shortly afterwards before, in the centre of the track, throwing down a telling challenge. The pair swept to the front at the 200m pole and powering clear to win stylishly. Owned by Abdulla Saeed bin Huzaim, the 4-year-old gelded son of Dawn Approach had shed his maiden tag, at the ninth attempt, over the same course and distance a fortnight ago.

Beasley said: “As I said two weeks ago, he had always shown us plenty at home, so it is nice to see him producing it on the track. He is going to be better over further and should stay a mile, but this looked a good race for him and so it proved.”

Winning trainer Ahmad bin Harmash added: “We think this is a nice horse and, hopefully, we have plenty of options with him distance wise and perhaps we will try him on turf.”

Twelve may have gone to post for the 1600m maiden but from a long way out only one mattered with Chiefdom, who had led from the outset, pulling clear to win well for trainer Salem bin Ghadayer and jockey Royston Ffrench. A 4-year-old gelded son of The Factor, it was just a fourth career start for the winner, who became the first horse victorious in the silks of Sheikh Hasher Mohd Al Maktoum with what was just his eighth runner.

Ffrench said: “We always thought he was a nice horse, but was a bit fresh first time before tiring over 2000m on his second start. He has matured and strengthened over the summer, but is a bit of a character, which hopefully means he is going to improve further as he grows up mentally.”

A lesser 1600m handicap went to Right Flank on whom Pat Dobbs could not have timed his challenge any better, producing him from last entering the long home straight to lead in the final strides for Doug Watson and enthusiastic syndicate EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club), denying Tailor’s Row who never looked like being headed when going clear 600m out under Xavier Ziani. Losing his maiden tag on his tenth racecourse appearance and seventh for Watson, the 5-year-old War Front entire started his career in France with Andre Fabre, but has not been straightforward since joining Watson.

“He had a stress fracture two seasons ago and then a few niggling problems during the last campaign,” Watson, saddling his 50th winner for the owners, said. “We could have gone for a maiden with him, but chose this and we now know he handles these conditions, so that opens up options and he will stay further.”

Denied by Dobbs on that occasion, Ziani immediately gained compensation in the concluding 1950m handicap, again going straight to the lead, this time aboard Firnas, owned by Ahmad Ghalita Almheiri and completing a double on the card for trainer Bin Ghadayer. Having left Godolphin and Charlie Appleby having won once, the 6-year-old Dubawi gelding ran twice in April for new connections. On his intended seasonal return and dirt debut at Meydan three weeks ago, he refused to race. Slowly into stride here, he was rousted to the front and always looked happy under Ziani.

The meeting opened with a Purebred Arabian 1400m maiden restricted to those foaled in the UAE. The race attracted the maximum allowed field of 16, but very few were ever able to get involved, as jockey Tadhg O’Shea hugged the far rail aboard AF Kal Noor and never looked back. Representing the same connections of Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel, AF Hoboub led the group racing on the nearside and remained in overall second place throughout without ever looking a realistic danger to the very easy winner.

“He is a horse we always liked and was surprised he did not win last season,” O’Shea said. “He has done that very nicely today when actually getting him to post safely was more difficult than the actual race.”