ERA Preview Jebel Ali
Will it be a case of déjà vu?
That’s bound to be the question on the minds of most racegoers at Jebel Ali Racecourse this Saturday as the spotlight once again turns on Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s retained trainer Michael Costa.
The price of success can be increased interest and scrutiny and Costa, and the silks of Sheikh Ahmed, have a presence in five of the six Thoroughbred contests on the seven-race card, which gets underway with The Audi Cup, a 1000m maiden for Purebred Arabians.
The yellow brigade of the ‘home team’ mercilessly ran through the opening meeting’s card, winning five of the six races they had runners in and this week it is no different with Costa having readied a dozen for the afternoon.
The only time Australia-born Costa can afford to take a breather is during the penultimate 1950m Dubai Fitness Challenge 30x30 Cup (handicap 0-85) where six go to post and where Doug Watson will be looking to cash in with National Bank (4.30pm), the five-year-old Dubawi gelding catches the eye courtesy of his course and distance win from last season; a race in which Salem bin Ghadayer’s Attribution, who reopposes here, was headed 100m from the finish.
Bin Ghadayer has a pair of entries in this event with Attribution’s Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum-teammate Trumpet Man bidding to make some noise.
Ahmad bin Harmash’s Dubai Vision could be another lively prospect as his win in a 2000m handicap at Sharjah from last season where he beat the progressive Perfect Balance, highlights his chances in this.
The feature event of the afternoon, the 1400m Mohaather Stakes sponsored by Shadwell (4pm), a 0-100 handicap, could provide one of the best races on the card and the home team look to have a strong hand courtesy of the Costa-trained pair Sadaaty and Mersaal.
A four-year-old Munnings gelding, Sadaaty won on debut in January 2022 before producing two rather dismal subsequent performances in the month that followed, as an injury sidelining him for over a year afterwards.
But he returns in the hands of Costa’s first choice Ben Coen, who has chosen him over the older and far more experienced Mersaal, who has had the benefit of a run this term when third of six in the feature event of the opening meeting a fortnight ago.
Qais Al Busaidi gets the ride aboard the five-year-old gelded son of Ghostzapper, who has a pair of handy wins to boost his reputation. Victorious on his first start in a 1200m maiden, Mersaal went on to defeat the 2020 UAE Oaks heroine Down On Da Bayou with a sustained drive on what was a massive class upgrade on his very next run. That experience aligned to the racing exposure he’s already enjoyed this term should make him a formidable foe.
Musabbeh Al Mheiri, who reached and breached the 500-winner mark with a double last Friday at Meydan, dispatches Shadwell pair Asad Zabeel, who was headed in the final furlong of last year’s Jebel Ali Classic run over track and trip, and Almoreb, a three-time course and distance champion with a further seven placings at the venue.
Eljenob (5pm) should have come forward from his comfortable win in a 1400m maiden win here two weeks ago and is expected to be pencilled in as favourite in the 1600m handicap (0-85), despite having been assigned an extra 200m to run.
His Sheikh Ahmed teammate and course and distance victor Bilhayl (3pm) will be a given to land the five-runner Handicap Sprint Stakes sponsored by the Emirates Sprint Series over 1000m.
One of the most intriguing races on the programme could be the 2yo Novice Stakes, in which Costa fields three of the five entered; Coen making the most of his choice to pick Turjman (2.30pm) who is the only horse in the field with previous competition experience.