26 January 2024

ERA Jebel Ali Preview

A switch to Jebel Ali on Saturday could be the catalyst for a return to winning ways for Go Soldier Go who appears to have leading claims in the feature race on the card, the 85-105 Handicap (1950m).

In an interview during a successful three-year-old season, rider Adrie de Vries suggested his mount ‘takes time to get going’.

The son of Tapiture won twice as a three-year-old at Meydan before tackling the UAE Derby on World Cup Night and it was evident from his performances that stamina was his forte.

That has certainly appeared the case this season with the Fawzi Nass trainee posting solid, if unspectacular efforts, in in well contested 2000m handicaps at Meydan.

In fairness, the level of competition he has faced has been pretty high and his latest performance when fifth to Kabirkhan may turn out to be one of the hottest handicaps of the season given the winner is being touted as a live Dubai World Cup candidate.

Go Soldier Go was outpaced from a long way out that night but, to his credit, found plenty for pressure and ran on to snatch fifth place near the line and the stiffer nature of Jebel Ali’s climb to the line should really suit him.

Not that the feature race is a one-horse race; it never could be with the Michael Costa team looking to strengthen their position at the head of the trainer’s championship. 

The Australian handler had entered both Alzheem and Wessall but relies on the former who could discover his best form by returning to his ‘home ground’.

Two recent starts at Meydan have seen the six-year-old flounder a little, but a defeat of track specialist Delorean (1600m) at JA last November reads well. 

Although he sits at the top of the handicap, Lost Eden is worthy of respect now he too returns to his favoured stomping ground. 

The seven-year-old’s course stats read 21112 and, can count among his victims on the ‘Hill’ the recently retired Algiers who boasted the quality to finish second in the Dubai World Cup. His presence adds some class to an intriguing contest and a big run could set him up for the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes on March 16th.

 

LION SET TO BARE HIS TEETH

There is a case for suggesting Lion’s Mane is one of the more attractively handicapped horses running in the UAE.

A mark of 76 looks extremely workable for the Shamardal gelding who contests the 0-85 1600m handicap for trainer Ahmad bin Harmash three weeks after chasing home the highly progressive Nevershow Weakness at Meydan.

Admittedy, the five-year-old was grossly flattered to finish within three-and-a-half lengths of the winner on that occasion as Tadgh O’Shea eased down appreciably on the son of Lord Nelson.

However, it was still an encouraging effort from Lion’s Mane who should appreciate the more stamina exacting contours of Jebel Ali on Saturday as opposed to a venue favouring speed like Meydan. 

Top rated Prompting would be of interest on the form of his penultimate start when runner-up at Abu Dhabi and he ran too poorly for it to be a true reflection of his ability last time at Meydan.

The other Fawzi Nass contender, Shake Hand, is another looking to bounce back from a lacklustre Meydan showing and is the choice of De Vries, while One Idea may relish returning to the ‘Hill’ which was the scene of his last victory back in November 2022.

The assessor is certainly cutting the son of Dubawi some slack having dropped him from a mark of 85 to 76 in four starts and he could be reinvigorated for a switch to Saturday’s venue. 

Also included in the programme is a 0-80 handicap over 1000m, a 1400m non winners’ event and a pair of maidens over 1200m and 1800m. The only Purebred Arabian event is a 1400m maiden for UAE bred runners aged four and above in which AF Alhazem should be poised to strike after numerous close calls, including treble of third place finishes in his nine career starts.