13 January 2023

Lost Eden to face five in defence of Jebel Ali Stakes crown

Saturday is the first of the season’s three Jebel Ali feature races, the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes for which a select field of six have been declared, including Lost Eden who is seeking to become the third dual winner and horse to defend their crown in the stiff stamina test by emulating Treble Jig (2012/13) and Montsarrat (2018/19).

Trained by Doug Watson for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, the 6yo gelded son of Sea The Stars is seeking a fourth consecutive Jebel Ali victory, starting his winning spree at the end of January last year, beating subsequent Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile winner and last week’s Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 victor Algiers over this 1950m.

He then followed up in this but was not seen again in public for 293 days, winning the official prep over 1800m a month ago. He clearly relishes conditions, will appreciate the return to 1950m and looks sure to go close under Pat Dobbs.

Third in the prep was Daramethos, again to be ridden by Antonio Fresu for Musabbeh Al Mheiri, trainer of the aforementioned Treble Jig. Another gelded son of Sea The Stars, he was never able to land a blow over the 1800m but was staying on well, suggesting the extra 150m would suit him and connections will be hoping that proves to be the case.

Stable jockey Fresu could also have partnered the trainer’s second runner, For The Top who will instead have the assistance of Bernardo Pinheiro.

A 2500m Grade One winner in his native Argentina, in November 2018, the now 7yo did not win again until landing the 2000m Listed The Entisar, under Fresu, in December 2021. That remains his sole local success but he has run some good races in defeat and cannot be safely ruled out on his Jebel Ali debut.

Book Review tried to make all in the prep before fading into fourth but he has won over 3200m, on the flat Al Ain oval, so stamina was not necessarily the issue. If allowed an uncontested lead in this small field, he could prove hard to catch under Royston Ffrench, riding for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and Salem bin Ghadayer.

Based at Meydan’s Green Stables, Russian handler Pavel Vashchenko provides a fascinating contender in Azure Coast, twice a winner at Meydan last season, highlighted by victory in the 1600m Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas.

He was then well beaten in the UAE Derby before returning to Europe for one outing, a clear cut success over 2000m in Moscow. Disappointing, over 1600m at Meydan, on his return to the UAE he may well appreciate the Jebel Ali hill as he was slowly away for both his Meydan victories before finishing fast and late to snatch victories which looked unlikely at the top of the straight. Myzabek Kappushev rides.

The sextet is completed by Rakeez, representing the always respected Tadhg O’Shea/Bhupat Seemar combination but, on official ratings at least, has something to find with the other five. However, the 5yo gelding arrives in great heart having won both his two most recent outings, both over this course and distance, most recently six weeks ago.