Jebel Ali staged the only race meeting in the UAE this weekend with a seven-race card on Friday highlighted by a handicap over 1800m, won stylishly up the hill by Rio Tigre for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum and Sandeep Jadhav. Stable jockey Royston Ffrench was aboard the multiple Group 3-placed son of Teofilo.
“He is a very good horse and he won well here two weeks ago,” Jadhav said. “We will have to see what the handicapper does now before deciding whether to run here again or go to Meydan.”
Ffrench added: “He actually won better today than he did last time. He tries very hard for you which is always a big help. If you look back, he has some very good form in the past. Well done to Sandeep and his team who have done a really great job with this horse at home to get him back in such good form.”
Satish Seemar saddled four of the 15 runners in the opening 1400m maiden and supplied first and second with local debutant Mabrook unable to catch Beachcomber, who was never headed among the larger group on the far side of the track. Ridden by Tadhg O’Shea, Beachcomber was opening his account on his third career start, second this season and first at Jebel Ali. Sporting the silks of Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the 4-year-old gelded son of Bernardini looks sure to improve with experience.
“That is the ideal start to the afternoon and we thought both had good chances,” Seemar said. “Mr Al Basti is a massive supporter of UAE racing and it is always nice to train a winner for him.”
O’Shea added: “As you can see, this is a big, strong, raw horse who was particularly quickly out the gates today. I found myself in front and did not want to disappoint him. He seemed happy bowling along. Hopefully there is more to come from him.”
An hour later, the owner completed a double, combining on this occasion with Doug Watson and Pat Dobbs to land a 1200m handicap with Lytham St Annes, a 5-year-old Bahamian Bounty gelding who was doubling his career tally on his 12th UAE outing.
“He has been with us for a little while, but has always had a few niggling problems until this season,” Watson said. “He was an excellent fourth on his first start for us, as a 3-year-old over 1400m on turf at Meydan and we always knew he was decent. Credit to the owner for persevering with him. Hopefully the horse can go on to bigger and better things as he has plenty of ability.
Rocket Power made it three for the owner, looking well-named when shooting clear under Connor Beasley in the 1600m handicap. Saddled by Ahmad bin Harmash, who was completing a double, the 5-year-old Kyllachy gelding won once in England, on the all-weather at Southwell and was registering a second victory since joining current connections having won a 1200m Jebel Ali handicap in March 2017.
Bin Harmash said: “It has been a good afternoon and the horses continue in good form after a pleasing start to the season.”
Beasley added: “That was actually quite impressive and he has really carried me into the race strongly. It was just a case of him getting home up the hill over this trip but he stayed on strongly.”
The jockey completed a double and a treble for the trainer when Goldenground was never headed in the concluding maiden, a 1000m dash.
The 1400m handicap produced a dramatic finish with Initial, a 1600m winner at Al Ain two weeks ago, flashing home on the nearside rail, but fractionally too late for connections who—after the photograph was examined—actually had to settle for third. In the centre of the track Pinter had looked the likely winner when leading 300m from home (Antonio Fresu riding for Erwan Charpy), but they were caught shortly afterwards by Chris Hayes and Fear The Fury, initiating the treble for Bin Harmash.
Hayes, riding in the colours of Mansoor Al Mansoori, said: “It was the first time I have ridden the horse, but he was a course and distance winner last November, so I had no concern about the conditions. Wearing blinkers for the first time, he has travelled strongly and I was probably in front too soon, but—apart from the second—the leaders all dropped away.”
Fernando Jara appears to have found the key to Skygazer and, just as was the case over 2000m at Sharjah a fortnight ago, the pair were never headed in the 1950m handicap for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, who said: “This horse was a maiden when he joined us and has now won six times, including on turf in China. That was his second Jebel Ali win and he has two at Sharjah, as well as one at Al Ain.”
Jara added: “I think that Sharjah win boosted his confidence and it helped I was able to get a reasonably easy lead. Credit to Ali and the team at home. He is a happy horse. As you could see afterwards, he probably had a bit left in the tank, the way he was prancing around in the winner’s enclosure.”