UAE racing returns on Friday with a seven-race card at Jebel Ali Racecourse; the first of 11 they will host among the 67 cards to be staged across the five UAE tracks through April 12.
The featured 1400m handicap has attracted a very competitive field of 13, including two trained by Nicholas Bachalard, the new incumbent at the Jebel Ali Stables of racecourse patron His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Stable jockey Chris Hayes, has elected to ride dirt debutant Haalick, leaving reigning UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, now based with Satish Seemar at Zabeel Stables alongside Richard Mullen, a nice spare ride on Sholaan.
Haalick, who has only four local outings on his resume since arriving in the UAE two years ago, was a very useful performer in the UK, including a win in the 1400m Listed Spring Cup Stakes on the Lingfield all-weather in March 2016.
Meanwhile, Sholaan is a Jebel Ali regular with three course victories to his name; twice at 1200m and once over 1000m. Still, he has shown the ability to stay 1400m, as shown when chasing home Cosmo Charlie in the valuable Jebel Ali Classic (Silver Jubilee) during their final fixture of last season.
Bachalard, who saddled Nashmiah from his previous Saudi Arabia base for an historic win in the 2017 UAE 1000 Guineas, has been an instant hit with local media.
“I am really looking forward to having my first runners from Jebel Ali Stables and have four on the day,” he said.
“We are hoping they are all fit, but expect them to improve throughout the season, so it will be interesting to see how they run. Both Haalick and Sholaan have been pleasing us and with luck should go well in what looks a hot race.”
O’Shea added: “Sholaan looks a very nice spare ride and I was delighted to be asked. He goes particularly well at Jebel Ali and it is always an honour to ride for Sheikh Ahmed, especially on his own course.”
The headliner in the race is the aforementioned Cosmo Charlie, victorious in the 1900m Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday 2017 at Meydan, as well as his Jebel Ali Classic win in March. The pupil of reigning UAE champion trainer Doug Watson is the mount of Pat Dobbs and will look to return to the form that saw him run a good second to subsequent Godolphin Mile (Group 2) winner Heavy Metal in February’s Firebreak Stakes (Group 3). The son of Travers Stakes (Group 1) winner Stay Thirsty has won four of 11 and boasts earnings of US $325,517.
Watson, who also saddles dirt debutant Dream Dubai under Sam Hitchcott, said: “There are no turf races for Dream Dubai at the moment. With him training so well, this looked a good opportunity to try him at Jebel Ali. Cosmo Charlie won there at the end of last season, over this course and distance, so should go well, but it is their first race of the campaign, so we see how fit they actually are.”
The last time Royston Ffrench was in action at Jebel Ali he suffered a nasty fall which ruled him out of the saddle for seven months.
He partners High On Life for Sandeep Jadhav, embarking on his first full season having been appointed at Fazza Racing Stables in March, immediately saddling the aforementioned Heavy Metal to his Dubai World Cup card triumph.
Jadhav, who actually runs four in the race said: “Like everyone, we are hoping the horses are ready to
do themselves justice and they are all training well. High On Life would be the first choice, having won at Jebel Ali over 1200m. This is a first try at 1400m, but we think he will stay.”
For Seemar and Mullen, Riflescope is another to consider. The same can be said for Daily Bulletin, who will be partnered by Fernando Jara for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi in what appears a truly wide open feature sponsored by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell.
The sponsor’s world famous blue and white silks will be carried by Zainhom and Shajjy with retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, opting to ride the former. Both are trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, who will be looking to make a quick start now back at the helm at Oasis 1 Stables.
Jebel Ali regulars should note all 11 meetings this season are seven races.
Start times will consequently be earlier. This week, the first race at 2:00 p.m. As a result of the extra contest, the feature race becomes race four and the on-course tipping competitions now feature a Pick 7 with tricast options for all races.