The penultimate meeting of the Jebel Ali season on Friday is highlighted by a handicap over 1800m for which a select field of six have been declared. Among the contenders is Storm Belt who was seen in action on Super Saturday at Meydan in 2015 and 2016, as well as Interpret, winner of the Jebel Ali Stakes in 2014.
Trained by Doug Watson, Storm Belt arrived in the UAE as a maiden after four 2011 outings for Godolphin.
He lost his maiden tag in a handicap at Sharjah in November 2012 before winning at the same course almost a year later.
Progressing through the ranks and ratings, he then landed a Jebel Ali handicap over Friday’s 1800m course and distance before finishing seventh to Interpret in the 2014 Jebel Ali Stakes. His other two victories have both been registered at Meydan, in a 1900m handicap on an all-weather surface in 2014 and on the dirt in the 2016 The Entisar.
He also contested the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3, on Super Saturday, in both 2015 and 2016, but remains winless since November 2016 when he landed The Entisar. The 9-year-old returns to Jebel Ali for the first time since March 2014.
Watson said: “This looked a good spot for him for what will be his last race of the season. He is working well and is proven up the Jebel Ali hill. We are expecting him to run well in what looks a competitive race despite the small numbers.”
Interpret has perhaps always lived in the shadow of his illustrious half-brother, the 2007 Dubai World Cup winner Invasor, but has always been a useful performer in his own right highlighted by his 2014 Jebel Ali Stakes victory.
He has won twice since, both times at Jebel Ali, but not since March 2015 and has not been in great form this season. Antonio Fresu rides for Musabbeh Al Mheiri.
On his penultimate start, Interconnnection won a course and distance handicap before struggling two weeks ago in the Jebel Ali Stakes won by his stable companion Montsarrat. Back in handicap company he looks sure to go well under Xavier Ziani riding for Salem bin Ghadayer, whose horses continue in great form.
Ziani said: “He is proven under these conditions which is always a bonus at Jebel Ali and seems in top form at home. It may be a small field but is still looks a hot little race.”
Heading the weights is Good Trip, trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and the mount of stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea who won on him on his penultimate start in a turf handicap at Meydan over 1800m.
O’Shea said: “He was perhaps disappointing last time but his win before that was a good one and hopefully he is still in that kind of form.
The jockey added: “He has won at Jebel Ali, so has that course form which is always a good thing as not all horses handle the conditions. Looking at the field I think Interconnection and Storm Belt are the two to beat.”
The field is completed by Round Two, to be ridden by Gerald Avranche for Rashed Bouresly, and Mudaarab.
The latter is the mount of Jim Crowley and is trained by Erwan Charpy for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who sponsors the race through his Shadwell Farm, the US arm of his Shadwell breeding empire.