Racing at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon is highlighted by a 1000m conditions race for three-year-olds, for which 12 have been declared, including two previous winners, Arroway and Circle Dream.
The latter is one of three in the race for Satish Seemar and the choice of stable jockey Richard Mullen; he could be the one to beat in a race generously sponsored by Shadwell Farm, the American arm of the breeding empire belonging to HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
A three-year-old son of Oasis Dream, Circle Dream made a winning debut, as a juvenile, in a maiden over 1200m at Meydan Racecourse’s very first meeting of the season in November.He was then off the track for just over two months before returning last week at Meydan when, seemingly, failing to stay 1400m.He has shown a lot of speed in both his starts and looks likely to appreciate reverting to sprint distances.
Stable companion J Be Space, was fifth on his only start to date in the race won by Circle Dream but, being born in the southern hemisphere, has to concede weight to his 11 rivals. He will be ridden by Pat Cosgrave with Tadhg O’Shea aboard the yard’s third contender, debutant The New Maharaja.
Assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar, said: “We think the drop back in trip will suit Circle Dream but we needed to try him over further last week to see if he would stay. J Be Space is a nice horse but does have to give weight away which is not ideal. We have put blinkers on him and he worked well when we took him to Jebel Ali so the surface should be fine. The New Maharaja has also been to Jebel Ali to train and gone well. Satish bought him at the sales in America and he too is a nice type. Hopefully we have three decent chances in the race.”
Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, Arroway also made a winning debut, in his case over the course and distance of Friday’s race at the very first meeting of the UAE season in early November. He has however been well beaten in two subsequent efforts at Meydan, finishing just in front of Circle Dream on the second occasion last Thursday.
Champion Trainer Doug Watson and stable jockey Pat Dobbs, rely on Jockey Joe, the pair never sighted when failing to beat a rival on his sole start in a 1200m Meydan maiden. That was in late November and Watson explained: “He had been working well before that run but he disappointed and has been gelded since. We are happy with him at home but will find out a lot more as to where we stand on Friday.”
The best of four handicaps is also over 1000m and features a rematch between Farook and Call To War, first and second in a similar race two weeks ago. Trained by Erwan Charpy for Sheikh Hamdan, Farook was making a winning local debut on that occasion and impressed under Jim Crowley who is again in the saddle. Colm O’Donoghue rides Call To War, owned by racecourse patron HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, for Gopi Selvaratnam who trains on the Jebel Ali track. Selvaratnam said: “He ran very well last time and we are expecting him to do so again. Of our four runners on Friday, he looks to have the best chance.”
Watson and Dobbs combine with Denzille Lane, a course winner over 1600m on his penultimate start but yet to win over 1000m after six attempts. Shillong, trained by Helal Al Alawi and the mount of Pat Cosgrave has already won twice at Jebel Ali this season, both times over 1200m, but was well behind Farook and Call To War last time.
Seemar and Mullen rely on Hammurabi who receives weight from all his seven rivals but was twice behind Shillong this season. However, his best effort of the campaign was over Friday’s 1000m track and trip when just failing to overhaul stable companion Ejbaar.
All three career wins have been achieved over 1200m at Jebel Ali but this is only his fourth attempt at the minimum trip. Assistant trainer, Seemar said: “He looks to have a lot in his favour and should run a big race.”