Stakes Are High At Jebel Ali With A Pair Of Listed Races

A good card at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon is highlighted by a pair of Listed races, one at either end of the track’s distant ranges, with the 1000m Jebel Ali Sprint and the 1950m Jebel Ali Stakes.

The Listed Jebel Ali Sprint, sponsored by Shadwell, has been a happy hunting ground for the sponsor, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose world famous blue and white silks have been carried to victory in each of the last two seasons, most recently 12 months ago by Alkaraama.

Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, the now 5-year-old entire son of War Front, actually denied stable companion and the same owner’s Thammin a repeat success in the contest. Sheikh Hamdan’s number one jockey, Jim Crowley, aboard Thammin on both those occasions, rides Alkaraama with Dane O’Neill, also retained by the owner, aboard Fanaar for Doug Watson.

Pat Cosgrave partners local and dirt debutant Habub, another to be saddled by Al Mheiri, who won four times in Britain for Owen Burrows and has been gelded since last seen in public at the end of July. Alkaraama, as he did last year, arrives here after finishing well beaten in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes, over 1200m on the Meydan dirt, a fortnight ago.

Al Mheiri said: “He needed that comeback run at Meydan and is a lot sharper now. The 1000m at Jebel Ali really suits him and he should run a big race.

“Habub is a nice new horse who is going to improve for the outing. He works nicely on dirt at home and this is a good place to start him off.”

As well as Fanaar, Watson also saddles Al Tariq, the mount of stable jockey Pat Dobbs. This will be just his third start locally, the first was a close second in a 1400m Jebel Ali handicap last March.

Watson said: “Both are training great, but the trip is a query for each. Fanaar ran really well over the trip at Meydan, on turf, last time, finishing strongly, and this stiffer test will hopefully suit and he has run well at Jebel Ali in the past.

“Al Tariq ran well there as well, the only time he has faced the hill, and needed his one run this season. Hopefully both ours will be staying on.”

Trained at the adjacent Jebel Ali Stables by Nicholas Bachalard for racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Raakezz was a course and distance maiden winner on debut at the end of November 2019.

He has not won in four subsequent outings, but these do appear his optimum conditions and Bachalard said: “The horse is in very good form, but going into a very strong race. Conditions suit him though and he is in great shape, so hopefully can at least be competitive.”

Third behind Alkaraama in this last year for Satish Seemar, Leading Spirit had previously beaten that rival in a handicap over this 1000m course and distance.

Over 1950m, the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes sponsored by Shadwell Farm has attracted a field of 12 in what appears a fascinating renewal.

The term course specialist undoubtedly applies to Just A Penny, prepared by Watson for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti. The 9-year-old Kodiac gelding has nine career victories to his name, all at Jebel Ali, two over this 1950m and over 1800m on his penultimate start, his latest appearance on his favourite course. Second in the 2019 Jebel Ali Stakes, he was only sixth last year.

Watson said: “Apart from the draw we could not be happier; the horse is working great and we know he loves it at Jebel Ali. We expect a big effort.”

For Salem bin Ghadayer, both Firnas and Tailor’s Row have won their three most recent outings, the former actually unbeaten this season. both have won over this 1950m up the famous Jebel Ali hill.

Their stable companion, MkFancy, is having just his second local outing and first at Jebel Ali. He has not won since October 2019, as a juvenile, but that was in Group One company. He was second in a 1900m Meydan dirt handicap on his first start for Bin Ghadayer, a race won by Firnas.