Can Beachy Head the field again at Jebel Ali
Jebel Ali Racecourse stage their second meeting of the new season on Friday afternoon, highlighted by a 1400m conditions race.
Last year’s winner Beachy Head returns to defend his crown and will face 10 rivals. That was his third victory over the 1400m Jebel Ali course and distance, while his other career win was over the same trip at Al Ain, so he appears something of a 1400m specialist.
The mount of apprentice Liam Tarentaal who will be having just his second mount in the UAE, Beachy Head is one of three in the contest for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi whose stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea elects to partner new recruit Daily Bulletin.
“These choices are never easy but Daily Bulletin is a new horse in the yard and one I really like,” explained O’Shea.
“He won twice for John Gosden in England but has been off more than a year, so whatever he achieves on Friday he will improve for the run.
“With Liam’s 3kgs claim, Beachy Head should be competitive and we at Grandstand Stables also have Mushaakis in the field, like Beachy Head, proven at Jebel Ali.”
Mushaakis is the mount of Dane O’Neill, returning to UAE action after a suspension. O Neill is retained by the horse’s owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and had the choice of three runners in the race.
Al Rayhi attended a Jebel Ali press conference on Tuesday and said: “It is nice to have three good chances in the big race on Friday and all of the trio should run well.
“Tadhg thinks Daily Bulletin is a nice horse going forward, while Beachy Head and Mushaakis really like it at Jebel Ali.”
Sheikh Hamdan, who sponsors the race through Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of his Shadwell breeding empire also has the Maria Ritchie-trained duo Azmaam and Shaishee - the 1400m Jebel Ali track record holder, among the 11 runners.
However, her stable jockey, Fernando Jara, elects to partner her third contender, Billingsgate on what will be his first start for the yard.
Racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is doubly represented with both Gobooll and Call To War trained on the track by Gopi Selvaratnam.
The latter is a first ride of the local campaign for Oisin Murphy who returns as stable jockey, a role he filled three seasons ago.
“Both horses are in good form but are going to progress fitness wise,” said Selvaratnam.
“Oisin has enjoyed a very good summer and it is nice to have him back in the Jebel Ali fold.”
Al Rayhi saddled a double at the opening Jebel Ali fixture, the first of the whole UAE season a fortnight ago, as did Salem bin Ghadayer who relies on High On Life under Xavier Ziani.
A 1200m course winner in March, he then contested the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan so takes a big drop in class here.
“He has been going well in training and likes Jebel Ali,” said Bin Ghadayer. “Hopefully he should run well.”
Pat Dobbs rides Stunned, a winner over track and trip last December, for Doug Watson who said: “We have been very pleased with his preparation and he seems in good form but is going to benefit for the outing.
“Conditions, we know, suit him and he should give a good account of himself in what looks an open race.”
A rare Purebred Arabian contest for the course opens proceedings with the maximum field of 16 set to face the starter in a 1400m maiden.
O’Shea is looking forward to partnering Al Qassif, owned by Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum. He said: “The last time I rode for the owner I had a winner at Sharjah and have ridden plenty of winners in those famous colours so hopefully I can add to the tally.”
Al Qassif is one of four in the field trained by Ernst Oertel with Richard Mullen’s mount AF Esnad, perhaps the one to beat.