Jebel Ali doubles for Watson & Dobbs but Tenbury Wells stars under Ffrench

A pair of handicaps shared the spotlight at Jebel Ali on Saturday afternoon, the first over 1600m, was won in gutsy fashion by Tenbury Wells, hard ridden to lead in the early stages by Royston Ffrench and then never headed in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum for Salem bin Ghadayer.

A gelded son of Medaglia D’Oro, it was a fourth career success for the 5yo and second in the UAE, both over this 1600m Jebel Ali track and trip, the first registered at the end of February.

He also won twice in Britain for John Gosden before swapping continents, finishing second on his local debut in the equivalent race to this last year when it was staged a week later.

Ffrench said: “He is a lovely horse and probably unlucky not to have won more for us as he did not always have the best of luck in the past. That is the perfect start to his new season.”

El Baareq was sent straight to the front in a 1200m handicap by Richard Mullen and their three rivals never threatened to land a blow to get Rashed Bouresly and the Bouresly Racing Syndicate off the mark for the new season.

The 4yo Munnings colt had run well for a long way in a more competitive race than this last Saturday and took full advantage of that race fitness to make it two wins from just seven starts, all locally, with both victories over this course and distance.

Mullen said: “He is a very fast horse so I was keen to utilise that speed as the other runners would probably prefer 1400m. Luckily it worked!”

Pat Dobbs always appeared confident aboard One Idea and the pair delivered the goods in a 1400m handicap for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, who also bred the 5yo Dubawi gelding, and Doug Watson.

Having arrived a maiden after three starts in Britain, Watson’s charge opened his account on his fourth UAE outing, in a 1600m turf Meydan at the beginning of February and was doubling his tally here with a first success on dirt, at the third attempt, all on this course.

Trainer and jockey later doubled up in the lesser of two 1600m handicaps, Dobbs delivering Verboten to lead in the dying strides for Al Rashid Stables, enjoying their third winner of the weekend after a Meydan double on Friday evening.

Only four went to post for the second featured handicap, over 1950m and final race of the seven, and Al Rashid Stables provided a 1-2 to complete a prolific weekend, combining with Tadhg O’Shea and Bhupat Seemar, as they had twice at Meydan.

O’Shea and Rakeez were always holding the same owner’s Violent Justice, denying Watson and Dobbs a treble on the card in the process.

The 1200m maiden prize ‘stayed at home’ with 4yo Mersaal producing a very pleasing belated wining debut for racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, his 500th winner locally as an owner, representing the new Jebel Ali Stables’ team of Michael Costa and Jean Van Overmeire.

A gelded son of Ghostzapper, he was quickest away before settling in behind the early speed and easing to the front inside the final 400m. At that stage he looked likely to win easily but, perhaps showing inexperience, seemed to idle and both Black Mark and then Fusion Gold loomed as big dangers but he responded to Van Overmeire’s urgings to win in taking fashion.

The fixture opened with a 1400m maiden for Purebred Arabians foaled locally, contested by a capacity field of 16 but very few ever really threatened, the prize won easily by AF Almoheeb, the mount of apprentice Marcelino Rodrigues and one of six saddled in the contest by Ernst Oertel for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda.

Homebred, the 7yo entire was making just his second racecourse appearance and first for 638 days having finished runner-up in an identical race in early February 2021.

Oertel said: “That was very pleasing and this horse is going to stay further so we will likely be stepped up in trip.”