A quality card at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon is officially highlighted by the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes in which Montsarrat will bid to defend the title he won last year and emulate Treble Jig, the only previous dual winner of the race. Another much anticipated contest is the 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint in which we are guaranteed a new name on the roll of honour.
To be saddled by Sandep Jadhav, the 6-year-old gelded son of Poet’s Voice has not won since in six outings, which have all been at Meydan. Last year’s big race victory, when never headed under Tadhg O’Shea, remains his only previous visit to Jebel Ali. From three Jadhav runners, he is the choice of Royston Ffrench, who missed the race through injury 12 months ago. Xavier Ziani opts to ride Galles, runner-up to his stable companion last year and who arrives here having won his latest outing, a Jebel Ali handicap over 1800m two weeks ago when ridden by Ffrench.
Prior to that Ziani’s mount had finished fifth and third in races won by Jadhav’s third contender, Bois de Boulogne on whom Ziani won both times and has partnered him to victory on three occasions in total. However, the pair were last of four in the race won by Galles a fortnight ago. For this race Pat Cosgrave partners Bois de Boulogne.
Jadhav said: “All three are going well and like it at Jebel Ali which is obviously an advantage with Montsarrat probably the best of the trio. Galles bounced back to win last time and Bois de Boulogne won his previous two over course and distance, so hopefully they can all run well.”
Doug Watson also saddles three, including his 2018 Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile winner, Shamaal Nibras. He is the choice of Pat Dobbs with Sam Hitchcott opting to partner Tried and True, like the trainer’s third runner, Just a Penny, owned by Mohd Khalia Al Basti with Dane O’Neill aboard the last named.
“Shamaal Nibras always tries so hard and seems in good shape,” Watson said. “Just a Penny has been disappointing this season, but is working well and Tried And True won over course and distance in December.”
Richard Mullen opts to ride Broadcast for Satish Seemar leaving O’Shea to partner stable companion Surfer whose most recent victory was in the 1600m Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 in January 2015.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “Surfer has been a star over the years and we ran him over 1400m two weeks ago with this race in mind. Broadcast is a big, inexperienced horse, but one we really like, so we will find out more about him on Friday.”
Trained on the Jebel Ali track by Nicholas Bachalard for racecourse patron, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Masaarr is having just his second UAE and dirt outing having been well beaten in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 six weeks ago.
“Hopefully running on the track where he trains is a positive,” Bachalard said. “We are trying him over a longer trip to see if he stays so we can plan looking ahead.”
An hour later, seven will go to post for the 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes in which the course-based team combines with Draco, already a course winner over 1400m and 1600m on his first two local outings. The 4-year-old then struggled at Meydan to finish seventh earlier in January, going on to recover form for a second place finish at Jebel Ali two weeks ago. The son of Astrology was a winner over 1100m in the US and the 1000m here may prove ideal given the speed from the stalls he demonstrated at Meydan on his penultimate start.
Bachalard said: “We are hoping dropping him back in trip will suit him as he has plenty of natural speed.”
My Catch, for Watson and Dobbs, looks a massive danger and is not penalised for his success in last year’s Group 3 Al Shindgaha Sprint over 1200m at Meydan. The big question mark regarding him has to be whether or not he takes to Jebel Ali, where some horses thrive and others appear to resent the unique course.
Watson said: “It is a good prize, so we thought we would try him at Jebel Ali to see how he handles the conditions.”
High On Life was second in this last year and will be ridden by Ffrench for Jadhav who said: “He is in very good form and we know the 1000m at Jebel Ali suits him.”
South African Mike de Kock landed this dash with Drift Ice in 2008 and saddles Alfolk, one of three among the seven runners owned by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.