Jebel Ali legend Treble Jig is both the only horse to have won the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes twice, as well as to have landed said event and Jebel Ali Mile. His achievement could be emulated on Friday when Farrier attempts to defend his crown, while Shamaal Nibras attempts to add this race to the Jebel Ali Mile he won a month ago.
Approaching veteran status, 10-year-old Farrier has been a wonderful pupil to Satish Seemar and his team at Zabeel Stables ever since he made a winning racecourse debut at Meydan in 2012. He has won four times since, highlighted by victory in this 1950m race last year. Farrier has also produced a plethora of notable performances in defeat, including a second and a third in previous renewals of Friday’s race, as well as chasing home Godolphin’s Tryster in the 2016 Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday. That was the best of his five turf outings but his four other victories have been registered here at Jebel Ali where most recently he was third in the Jebel Ali Mile.
“He has been a great horse to have in the yard and deserved his big win last year.” Said Bhupat Seemar, assistant trainer. “We were very pleased with his run in the Jebel Ali Mile, which should have put him spot on for Friday.”
Trained by Doug Watson for EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club), Shamaal Nibras scored his first big race win when landing the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile. Unlike the aforementioned Treble Jig, he carries a penalty for that success (the Jebel Ali Stakes used to be run before the Mile), so he is seeking to become the first penalised runner to complete the double. Nine-year-old Shamaal was third to Farrier last year, having finished second in the Jebel Ali Mile, as he did in 2015. He was also runner-up in the 2016 National Day Cup.
For the same owners, he is joined by stable companion Mizbah. Also nine years old, he was fifth in this race last year and will be making just the second start this season, having been caught close home at the first Meydan meeting of the campaign in November.
On behalf of EERC, Justin Byrne said: “Mizbah had a setback and was forced to miss a race in December. He runs well fresh so we have waited for Friday’s race with him. Shamaal Nibras obviously has a penalty but Doug and his team have always felt the 1950m trip really suits him. We are hoping for a big run from both.”Pat Dobbs sticks with Shamaal Nibras while Sam Hitchcott will ride Mizbah, a horse he has won twice on.
A cracking Jebel Ali card also includes the 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint in which we are guaranteed a new winner. All eyes will be on High On Life, a Dubai World Cup Carnival winner over 1200m on turf for Salem bin Ghadayer just last Thursday. Four weeks ago, he won over this Jebel Ali 1000m when never headed. Mickael Barzalona makes a rare visit to Jebel Ali to ride him.
Chasing him home four weeks ago was Farook, trained by Erwan Charpy and previously unbeaten at Jebel Ali, having won both his first two local outings. Owned by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, he will be ridden by Antonio Fresu.
Jim Crowley rode Farook on all three UAE outings, but has opted to partner dirt debutant Waady for this contest. The 6-year-old will be having his fourth start since joining Watson this season and all six career wins have been over 1000m, including four at Sandown, which is a stiff test at the minimum trip.
“Hopefully he will handle the dirt and the hill should suit him,” Crowley said. “High On Life was very impressive the last day when he beat me on Farook and looks the one we all have to catch on Friday.”
Fifth in this last year and third in 2016, United Color represents Gopi Selvaratnam and Jebel Ali Racecourse patron, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Chris Hayes who was stable jockey at Jebel Ali Stables in each of the past two seasons rides one of four mounts on his first UAE appearance of the season.
Shillong, with Pat Cosgrave riding for Helal Al Alawi, has three Jebel Ali victories to his name this season, all over 1200m. He failed by a head to overhaul Farook on his only career attempt at 1000m and looks sure to be staying on strongly at the death.