The final fixture of the Jebel Ali season, on Friday afternoon, was highlighted by the second running of the Jebel Ali Classic (Silver Jubilee), a 1400m conditions race, in which class prevailed when Cosmo Charlie was probably never headed under Sam Hitchcott.
Trained by Doug Watson, the four-year-old was victorious in last year’s 1900m Listed Al Bastakiya on Super Saturday and made a winning return this season at Meydan, in a 1600m conditions race in November.
Also second in the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes, over that same 1600m dirt course and distance at Meydan, his previous start to this one was when eighth in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on this year’s Super Saturday card two weeks ago.
Watson, who won the inaugural running of this contest last year with Shamaal Nibras and was completing a quick double on the card, said: “We knew if he handled the surface he would be thereabouts and he clearly has so looking ahead to next season it opens up a few more options.”
Hitchcott added: “He used to be a bit ‘buzzy’ at the races but has improved since he was gelded,
“He did that quite nicely today in what was a decent little race.”
Only five went to post for the longest race on the card, the preceding 1950m handicap and Pat Dobbs, riding for the first time since injured at Meydan last Thursday, enjoyed an armchair ride aboard course specialist Just A Penny in the colours of Mohd Khalifa Al Basti.
Trained by UAE champion trainer Watson, he tracked his stable companion Mizbah and Hitchcott throughout the first part of the race before both were passed by Sharpalo with 700m to run.
Mizbah was immediately under pressure, with Hitchcott urging him on, but Dobbs was sat motionless and eased his mount to the front near the 400m marker.
It was then just a case of proving his stamina over this severe test of resilience and he stayed on strongly, registering his seventh career victory. All his wins have been on this course, where he had previously won over 1200m, 1400m, 1600m, 1800m and now over the longest trip they race at Jebel Ali.
Watson said: “He is a nice, fun horse who does particularly well here at Jebel Ali where he seldom runs a bad race. We had hoped to run him in the Jebel Ali Stakes but he had a small setback, but that could be a race to look at next year.
The trainer added: “He has that lovely cruising speed and, once in a rhythm, he just really enjoys it here. He will be back at Jebel Ali next season because we cannot really run him anywhere else.”
Watson was denied a third consecutive winner when his Tale Of Fire was headed 200m out in a second 1400m conditions race, this one restricted to three-year-olds, by Wasim.
Ridden with supreme confidence by Adrie de Vries for Ismail Mohammed, Wasim was always travelling strongest of all the 14 runners and it was just a case of when the Dutchman asked him to challenge.
That was 250m from home and they soon had the race won, posting a third career and second UAE victory having also won the Meydan Classic Trial also over 1400m on turf at Meydan.
“Jebel Ali has really suited him as he tends to race very keenly so we have to find cover with him De Vries said. “Once he settles he has a very good turn of foot and he should be a nice carnival horse next year.”
Having just his fourth local outing, after two runs at the carnival and most recently a sixth in the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint, Taneen was a comfortable winner of a conditions contest over the same 1000m course and distance as that big race dash.
Owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and twice a winner in England when trained by Roger Varian, he was having his first start here for Musabbeh Al Mheiri who returned to the helm at Oasis I Stables earlier this month.
It was his first winner of the campaign and a smooth one with Fernando Jara, never far off the pace, always looking in command when they swept past Speed Hawk who ran on to maintain second.
“He has always worked well at home,” said Jara. “It has taken a while for things to click into place for him in a race but they did today and that was a good performance.
“It was a drop in class from contesting the Jebel Ali Sprint last time and, with a summer in Dubai, he should be a nice horse for the yard next season.”
The meeting opened with a handicap over 1800m, contested by the maximum field allowed of 16, and Antonio Fresu was able to produce Aleko from nearer last than first at the top of the long straight to lead inside the final 100m.
In doing so, he became the fourth horse to lead inside the final 300m, denying Tradesman who himself had just headed First Down who led briefly having taken the initiative from Au Couer.
Trained by Erwan Charpy for Al Bait Mutawahed Team, it was a second Jebel Ali victory for the horse this season having been produced by Fresu, with a similarly timed challenge over 1600m four weeks ago.
He was then fourth at Meydan before finishing third over this 1800m at Jebel Ali at the previous meeting two weeks ago.
Charpy said: “He has been very consistent this horse after it just took us a little while to learn how best to ride him.
The trainer added: “He was racing too keenly when near the front early in races so we held him up near the back and it has really suited him. He is still a relatively young horse and, hopefully one to look forward to next season.”
The final race of the Jebel Ali season, a 1200m handicap, also went to Sheikh Hamdan, this time with his second jockey, Dane O’Neill, making all on Alraased for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
Runner-up on both his previous starts, over this course and distance, he was a 1000m Al Ain winner in December and was recording his third UAE victory having also won over 1200m at Sharjah in November 2016.
“I was drawn one on that far rail and this horse is quick early on so was able to get the lead, O’Neill said: “He has really run on strongly all the way to the line and that is a great end to the Jebel Ali season for myself and, of course, Sheikh Hamdan.”
The UAE season as a whole draws to a close next Saturday with the eagerly awaited $30million Dubai World Cup card at Meydan Racecourse.