Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and Tadhg O’Shea confident of ‘Good Trip’ in Jebel Ali feature
The final UAE meeting of the calendar year 2017 is to be staged at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon. 13 have been declared for the feature, the Jebel Ali Mile Prep, a 1600m rated conditions race.
Among them is last year’s winner, Good Trip, one of two in the race to be saddled by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi and the mount of former UAE Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, who is currently leading this season’s standings with 20 winners, two more than Pat Cosgrave.
Good Trip was opening his UAE account at the fourth attempt when he won this 12 months ago, under Emirati apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei who, coincidentally, is also in Jebel Ali action, riding for the first time this season.
Having only raced three times in England for Godolphin, winning two of those when trained by Saeed bin Suroor, he looked a new recruit of immense promise but, arguably, failed to build on it although, in fairness, he was set some stiff tasks.
After winning this last year, he ran four times in valuable handicaps at Meydan before returning to this course when well beaten in the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes. He was most recently seen, on Super Saturday at Meydan, when last of ten in the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold, on turf, the surface for six of his ten UAE outings.
O’Shea said: “He is only a four-year-old and we always hoped that, whatever he achieved last season, he would improve this one. Hopefully he can prove us right; he seems in good form and should run well in a tough race.”
O’Shea is stable jockey at Al Rayhi’s Grandstand Stables, who are also represented by Munaaser, the mount of Dane O’Neill and one of two in the race owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose Shadwell breeding empire also sponsor the contest.
Sheikh Hamdan’s second runner, Nathr, is one of a pair in the contest trained by Doug Watson and the choice of the owner’s retained first jockey, (O’Neill is second), Jim Crowley.
Meanwhile, Watson’s stable jockey Pat Dobbs, partners his other contender, Just A Penny and Watson said: “Nathr has not really fired in his two runs this season at Meydan so we thought we would bring him back here. He was fourth in the race last year and this is just his third Jebel Ali appearance.
“Just A Penny has won five times at Jebel Ali, twice over this 1600m. We took him to Abu Dhabi, on turf, for his one run this season and, hopefully, he is spot on for Friday.”
A fascinating contest also features Frankyfourfingers, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum and winner of the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R2 in February 2015.
The mount of Royston Ffrench, he seemingly adds a touch of class to proceedings but he does have to concede weight to his 12 rivals and has not won since that big race victory. He has been off the track for 337 days.
Few fillies contest Jebel Ali feature races but Aljuljalah, a stable companion of Frankyfourfingers does and she provides an extra layer of intrigue in a thoroughly absorbing race having won twice in the UK for Roger Varian.
Gopi Selvaratnam trains on the track for racecourse patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and they combine with Albernathy, the mount of Colm O’Donoghue.
Third on his sole UAE outing, in a 1600m handicap at Meydan three weeks ago, that was a good effort and his trainer Selvaratnam said: “We were delighted with his first run and this looks a good opportunity for him. We are certainly hoping for a big effort but there are no weak races at Jebel Ali and this looks a strong one.”
Unusually, the four-year-old actually clashes with his year younger full-brother, the local debutant, Pilgrim’s Treasure, the choice of reigning Champion Jockey, Richard Mullen, from two in the race for trainer Satish Seemar.
Raced five times by Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, he has one win to his name thus far but it looks significant Mullen partners him over his stable companion, Moonlight Dash.
And if the big race was not enough, with just a fortnight before the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan, South African Mike de Kock, by far the most successful of the international trainers at the big money extravaganza, saddles his first runner of the season when Pertinacious makes his debut in a 1400m maiden.