Watson Dominates Sprint Before Seemar Lands Thrilling Stakes On Quality Jebel Ali Card

Dual Listed features at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon and the speedsters were first up in the 1000m Jebel Ali Sprint which proved a memorable event for trainer Doug Watson who not only saddled the winner, Al Tariq, but provided runner-up Fanaar for good measure.

Quickly away, Pat Dobbs soon took the winner to the head of affairs, but at halfway, last year’s winner Alkaraama and Leading Spirit, third 12 months ago, loomed as dangerous challengers.

However, Dobbs’ mount found plenty for pressure, quickening away from that pair to have the race won entering the final 200m when Fanaar started to run on to claim second, but never looking like denying his stable companion. A 5-year-old gelded son of Oasis Dream, it was a case of third time lucky locally for the winner, doubling his career tally having won a 1400m in France back in April 2019.

The winner is owned by Abdulmohsen Al Abdulkareem and Watson, who saddled Hammadi to win this in 2009, said: “I cannot tell you how delighted I am to win a big race like this for the owner who has been very loyal to us for many years.

“This horse showed last year that he handles Jebel Ali, but then had an injury. The owner then just said ‘take your time’. We had a run back, which he needed at Meydan, a fortnight ago which put him spot on for this, but I must admit dropping to 1000m was a query.”

An hour later, the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes may have been the longest race on the card, but it produced the most exciting finish with course specialist, Tailor’s Row and Jose Santiago, who seemingly had the race won when edging clear 150m out, denied in the very last stride by Saltarin Dubai.

Partnered by Richard Mullen for Ali Haddad, it was a second feature race winner of the weekend for Satish Seemar after the success of secret Ambition in Meydan’s Group 3 Firebreak Stakes on Thursday. Settled in the middle of 12 runners, Mullen crept closer on the 8-year-old gelded son of E Dubai as, up front, the likes of MkFancy, Mazagran and Firnas all made winning bids but had no answer to Tailor’s Row who then, himself, could not thwart Mullen’s mount. A Grade One winner in his native Argentina, in June 2016, his previous two victories had been over 2000m on the dirt at Meydan, the first achieved in the Listed Curlin Handicap of March 2018.

Mullen said: “The owner, Ali, has been such a supportive and patient owner so this is a big win for us all, especially on the heels of Pat Buckley’s death because he was very special to us all, especially Ali.

“This is a tough, talented horse who probably lacks a gear, so this hill suited him and, out of the kickback, he really picked up.”

The action kicked off with a 1400m Purebred Arabian maiden which was totally dominated by horses saddled by Ernst Oertel for his main patron, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, the pair combining with the first three home. The owner’s retained jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who had six to choose from, was on the right one, landing the spoils aboard AF Soqrat, chased home by stable companions AF Almoheeb and AF Muataq in a capacity field of 16. Initially the second reserve, the 5-year-old homebred entire took full advantage of the late opportunity, opening his account at the fifth attempt on his first public racecourse appearance at Jebel Ali. Settled in midfield, the pair made smooth to hit the front inside the final 375m and staying on strongly to beat debutants AF Almoheeb and AF Muataq.

O’Shea said: “His experience has really come to the fore there, it is crucial up this steep hill and we were able to bring him here last week for a gallop which was a great help.”

Only two of the dozen runners in a 1200m handicap stuck to the standside rail, but from halfway, they appeared to have the other ten beaten with Shajjy trying keep pace with Adrie de Vries aboard Balletomane. That proved beyond him with Quiet Endeavour emerging from the main group to snatch second from Shajjy. It was a second winner on the card with a seasonal debutant for Rashed Bouresly, but this one was particularly noteworthy; the 6-year-old Exceed And Excel entire was not only making his local debut, he was returning from a break of 975 days!”

De Vries said: “You always know with these connections that a long absence is not necessarily an issue as we have seen twice this afternoon. I do not know how they do it so full credit to their team.

“I was drawn on this side and the track seems even all across so there is little point wasting ground to tack across. It has worked perfectly there!”

Again the maximum allowed, 16, took their chance in a 1400m handicap with the runners spread right across the track entering the final 200m when Torino Subito, nearest to the stands, appeared locked in battle with Falsehood, locked to the opposite rail. However, straight down the centre of the track, Szczepan Mazur and Aridity swept by them both to win cosily for Rashed Bouresly. The 8-year-odl gelded son of Teofilo was making a belated seasonal bow having not been seen since in competition since early March last year, but was returning to the scene of his three previous local victories, the most recent over 1800m in March 2019.

Mazur said: “The horse has good form here in the past, so that is obviously a massive positive and I just let him relax and race at his own tempo knowing he stays further.

“They went pretty quick which has helped and I was able to race pretty much alone, so was never worried by any kickback. He won well.”

A third consecutive capacity field, this time for a 1200m maiden, and a quick double for Mazur, combining this time with Musabbeh Al Mheiri who saddled Vasari for a comprehensive first victory on his ninth attempt, but only third locally. Seemingly always travelling strongly, the 4-year-old Muhaarar gelding eased to the front inside the final 300m and ran on well, putting daylight between himself and toiling rivals. Previously trained by Sir Michael Stoute, he made his local debut in December, finishing fourth in a maiden over 1200m before going one place closer in a handicap over the same distance, both races also at Jebel Ali.

Mazur said: “He had twice run well over course and arrived here with obvious claims. I was happy throughout because he was in a comfortable rhythm and then quickened when I asked him.”

The concluding 1800m handicap was ultra-competitive, but provided Tadhg O’Shea the perfect opportunity to demonstrate just why he is Champion Jockey, somehow weaving through to snatch victory aboard Dehbashi, bookending the card for himself and also completing a double for trainer Doug Watson. Owned by Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the 8-year-old gelded son of Blame was conceding weight to his 14 rivals, arriving here after five fruitless efforts since his previous victory, over 2000m on dirt, at Meydan in March 2019.

Jockeys wore black armbands throughout the seven races as a mark of respect for UAE racing legend Pat Buckley whose sad demise was announced on Thursday evening.