Jebel Ali headlines provided by Daily Bulletin
A 1400m conditions race was the highlight at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon and Daily Bulletin ridden by Tadhg O’Shea made a most impressive winning local debut, proving far too good for nine rivals.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, the four-year-old son of Medaglia D’Oro was never far off the early pace before easing to the front passing the 400m pole.
The race still looked wide open but, once sent for home by O’Shea, it was soon over and they powered clear up the hill.
A winner twice in England, both times on all-weather surfaces, for Godolphin and John Gosden, this was only his eighth start and he looks open to heaps of improvement.
“He is a horse I have really liked from the moment he joined us,” said O’Shea. “He works well on dirt at home and had the pedigree to suggest it would suit him which it has.
“He is a big, powerful horse who hopefully has a bright future. He will stay further but first time we thought this race was ideal for him.”
The meeting opened with a 1400m maiden and a rare chance for the Purebred Arabians at Jebel Ali, one grabbed with both hands by Gafel, continuing the great start to the season made by his trainer, Helal Al Alawi, and jockey Pat Cosgrave.
A fifth winner for the handler, all partnered by Cosgrave for whom it was number six, Gafel was opening his account at the eighth attempt on his sixth outing on dirt.
Fourth at Abu Dhabi on the first weekend of the season a fortnight ago, he broke well here and was tracking the early pace, seemingly travelling well.
The early leaders dropped away quickly, leaving him in front 400m and he never really looked likely to be caught.
“They went very quickly up front and I knew they would come back to me,” said Cosgrave. “I actually ended up in front sooner than I would have liked but he kept going for me.
“His best previous form was at Al Ain and he definitely seems to relish these dirt surfaces.”
Jockey and trainer completed a double, combining to win a 1200m maiden with Sea Skimmer who led a small group on the nearside rail before gaining the overall initiative about 250m from home.
The majority of the 16 runners went to the far side, where Arcarius dashed home to deny Libyan Peace second, but the winner had flown on the opposite side.
In just his third start and making his local debut, having shown distinct promise for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, Sea Skimmer created a very favourable impression.
Cosgrave agreed and said: “The yard said he had been working well and were very hopeful. His form in England and pedigree suggest he will be better over further.
“This was a good win but it will be a lot tougher now in handicaps but he can surely only improve, especially stepped up in distance.”
Earlier, Connor Beasley and Ahmad bin Harmash both doubled their seasonal tallies with the last gasp victory of Fear The Fury in a 1400m Handicap.
O’Shea and First Down appeared to have the race at their mercy entering the final 100m but had no response to the desperately late challenge of the winner.
Well beaten on his local and dirt debut at Meydan last Thursday, he seemingly relished this stiff uphill finish.
His stable companion, Pictograph, who raced alone on the nearside, was a close third under Colm O’Donoghue.
Beasley explained: “Studying his form in England he was at his best when allowed to take his time to get in the race so that was the plan.
“The hill helped as he was finding plenty and the others were tiring. That should do his confidence the power of good and he could be capable of better as he is only a three-year-old.”
Aslan and Xavier Ziani made all to win the very first meeting of the new campaign two weeks ago, running on too strongly for stable companion Untold Secret and Royston Ffrench in a 1950m handicap.
This time Ziani and Aslan had to settle for second in a handicap over 1800m, behind Ffrench, who was never headed aboard Galles, like Aslan and Untold Secret, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer.
The stable companions had the race between themselves from a long way out with Aslan briefly drawing level 300m from home but Galles soon quickened clear to win decisively.
Another making his local and dirt debut a winning one, Galles was losing his maiden tag at the fifth attempt, after four runs in France, most recently when third over 3000m in July.
Ffrench said: “Mickael Barzalona rode this horse three times in France and told me he had a lot of ability and was a nice type.
“He has loved the dirt surface and with luck looks the type to progress from this. The yard have started really well this season and long may it continue!”
The finale was also a handicap over 1800m and Pat Dobbs was soon in front aboard Tradesman, stalked by Oisin Murphy aboard Here Now and, pretty much throughout the long straight, they were the only protagonists with their 13 rivals struggling.
A duel developed until, just over 200m from the winning line, Here Now started to tire, eventually only just holding on to second from More To Come, like the winner, trained by Doug Watson for EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club).
Previously a maiden, after 12 starts, this was his sixth UAE outing and Watson said: “He is a half-brother to our good horse Storm Belt but had a little injury at the beginning of last season so missed the start of that campaign.
“He was a good third here two weeks ago but we knew he had improved as he is a big, heavy horse. He was a maiden before this so hopefully he will go on from here and if he can do anywhere near as well as Storm Belt, we will be delighted. ”