02 March 2024

ERA Jebel Ali Review

Michael Costa took big strides towards a first ever UAE Trainers’ Championship courtesy of a backyard treble for the colours of Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ridden by the Jebel Ali Racecourse’s founder and patron’s retained rider Ben Coen.

The ‘home team’ have been strong all season long and enjoyed one of their best days over the most gruelling of surfaces in the UAE with Saayedd, Lahfaty and Alhzeem all grinding out success for the Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum juggernaut that has proved unstoppable at home.

Their three trips to the winners’ enclosure followed Brazilian apprentice Marcelino Rodrigues’ quickfire early double that included the two opening events of the seven-race card.

Rodrigues first claimed the Wathba Stallions Cup sponsored by HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Racing Festival, a 0-85 handicap, with Ernst Oertel’s AF Kal Noor, who held on by a nose as the closers came thick and fast at the end of the 1800m contest. Mohammed Al Mahrooqi’s Ghali Al Athman finished second in the hands of another apprentice Qais Al Busaidi of Oman, with Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Ozone Layer a further neck behind in third under Pat Cosgrave.

Rodrigues claimed a fifth winner for the campaign after Ismail Mohammed’s Never Just A Dream, a distant 10th in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes in January, flew under him in the Emirates Airline Cup, a 0-95 handicap over 1200m, to win by a length and a quarter from Doug Watson’s Al Tariq, the ride of Pat Dobbs. Zawaaya was a further nose behind in third for Bhupat Seemar and Jim Crowley.

Saayedd was first to score for Sheikh Ahmed, Costa and Coen, the Malibu Moon gelding, justifying his billing as the favourite, despite making his first-ever racecourse appearance as a 6yo in the Bin Dasmal Group Stakes, a 1400m maiden. Saayedd debuted as a thorough professional under Coen and stuck to his task when asked for an effort by his rider at the 600m marker. He quickly made up ground to hit the front with a little over 200m to run and pulled clear easily to win by seven and a quarter lengths from Ahmad bin Harmash’s Theeban, the ride of Connor Beasley. Pace-setter Cabrit (Seemar/Richard Mullen) faded to finish a further length and a half behind in third.

Their second win of the afternoon came on the back of Lahfaty, who landed the 1400m Conditions event for 3yo fillies, the Al Nayefat Stakes sponsored by Tattersalls. Coen and Lahfaty broke from the innermost stall at the far rail and went around the back of their rivals to make their bid standside.

The pair shifted gears seamlessly to hit the front 400m out, with the Mitole filly seemingly distracted in the final 100m. However, having done enough early on she managed to take victory by a neck with Le Faucon Maltais second for Seemar and champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea. A length adrift in third was Awesome Spirit Gal for Doug Watson and Pat Dobbs.

The Jebel Ali trio completed their scoring in the penultimate Umm Suqeim Stakes 0-100 handicap over 1950m where Alhzeem justified his favourites billing with a gritty tank-emptying performance to win by a short head on the line, which denied Salem bin Ghadayer’s In Crowd a victory under Xavier Ziani. A length behind in third was Alhzeem’s stablemate Makfoul, the ride of Johnnathan Castano Mateus.

Fawzi Nass and Adrie de Vries’ in-form combination bore fruit in the Conditions event for 3yo colts and geldings, the Al Nawayef Stakes presented by Keeneland, where another terrific late performance saw Military Artist hammering home in the final strides under the Dutchman to deny Musabbeh Al Mheiri’s Bernardo Pinheiro driven Shuf Dubai by a short head. Rasas was a further three and a quarter behind in third for Ahmad bin Harmash and Connor Beasley.

The curtains came down on the afternoon with the Commercial Bank of Dubai Cup, a 0-75 handicap over 1600m, in which the previously denied Pinheiro gained a 29th winner of the season when guiding Rashed Bouresly’s outsider Capla Crusader to a battling half length success ahead of Seemar trainee Fall Of Rome, the ride of O’Shea. A further three quarters adrift in third was Al Maysan for Bin Harmash and Beasley.