THE PENULTIMATE 2018 race meeting in the UAE, at Jebel Ali last Friday afternoon, was highlighted by a fascinating 1600m conditions race, the Jebel Ali Mile Prep and it was a post Xmas cracker with all six runners appearing the likely winner at some point. Under top weight on his first start since March, Just A Penny and Pat Dobbs set what appeared a generous gallop and maintained the lead until 300m out when weakening and headed by Zainhom. Albernathy looked a big danger, briefly, before weakening shortly afterwards when Ennobled Friend was trying to unleash his challenge. Despite the small field, Rocket Power was short of room under Connor Beasley with Takatul, like Zainhom owned by Sheikh Hamdan and trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, switched wide to throw down his challenge by Ben Curtis.
The final 100m was a battle between the two Sheikh Hamdan runners and Rocket Power with the last named, finally in the clear, running on strongly to snatch victory close home for Ahmad bin Harmash and owner Mohd Khalifa Al Basti who was celebrating a double on the card. A 5yo Kyllachy gelding, Rocket Power has now won all three Jebel Ali starts this season after two lacklustre appearances at Meydan in November. A 1200m Jebel Ali winner in March 2017, he won over 1600m at the end of November before following up over 1400m two weeks later and, with this victory, has now scored at the last three meetings ‘up the hill’.
Beasley said: “This horse is just in a great rich vein of form and loving it here at Jebel Ali where that hill really suits him.“He just travels so well and today I had to wait for an opportunity to get out but I was a bit worried for a while that a gap would not appear but once it did he really picked up well. “Obviously we were getting weight today and will not in the Jebel Ali Mile itself but in this kind of form he should be competitive in what will undoubtedly be a stronger field.” After saddling five winners at Meydan the previous Thursday, four ridden by Pat Dobbs including two for owner Al Basti, the trio combined with Tried And True who was always travelling particularly well for his jockey who looked confident throughout the 1950m handicap.
Galles and Royston Ffrench set a decent tempo and early in the straight had most of their six rivals in trouble. The exception was Tried And True who cruised into contention and, once sent to the front by Dobbs 300m out, was never going to be denied. Having won his seasonal debut, over 2000m at Meydan under Dobbs in November, he then disappointed a month later over the same course and distance with Sam Hitchcott in the saddle.That was three weeks ago and he bounced back in style here to the delight of his trainer who said: “That win at Meydan was his first outing since April and probably took more out of him than we realised at the time so we freshened him up with this race in mind. “
We were actually pretty confident he would be hard to beat and he is a great horse to have in the yard because he always tries his best.” Trained by Sandeep Jadhav, Galles may have been denied but the trainer did not have to wait long to visit the winner’s enclosure with Ffrench and Untold Secret posting a comfortable success in the following 1800m handicap. Jadhav said: “He is such a nice horse, a really popular one in the yard and one who always gives his best. He is normally in the money and rarely disappoints us. “He won over 1600m at Meydan in November but then stayed on strongly, here at Jebel Ali, over 1600m and, again, last time over that trip at Meydan so we thought the extra distance would suit him. “
If you look back, he won over 2000m in France and has been placed over 1950m at Jebel Ali so is, basically, a very versatile horse.” Despite drifting dramatically across the track to the nearside rail, Pinter and Antonio Fresu always looked like landing the 1400m handicap after hitting the front 300m out, before taking their unorthodox route home and, in doing so, providing trainer Erwan Charpy a belated, but well deserved, first winner of the season.Saddling runner number 36 of the campaign, Charpy had seen his runners finish second three times and third on seven occasions this season, including Pinter, on his penultimate start over the same course and distance, denied right on the line four weeks earlier. “We needed a winner and these are this horse’s optimum conditions,” Charpy said.
“We were pretty hopeful and it is great to get one on the board before 2019.” Fresu added: “He is not the easiest horse to ride so I was happy to let him drift across and, once on the rail, he ran on very strongly. “The horses have been running well and I am delighted for Erwan and the whole team to get this winner.” Partnered by Emirati apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei, local and dirt debutant Manguzi was never far off the pace in a 1400m maiden before producing a virtual carbon copy of Pinter’s winning effort by, having skipped clear 400m from home, drifting right across to the nearside rail. As with Pinter though, it never appeared likely to cost him the spoils on his fourth career start having run three times earlier this year in Britain for George Scott.
Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi for Ahmed Al Shaikh, the winner is a 2yo, one of two juvenile colts among the 16 runners in the race, by Planteur and joins a very small group of youngsters to have won at Jebel Ali.Al Rayhi said: “That was a very pleasing performance and gives us plenty of options with the horse who had been working nicely so we were quite hopeful.” The opening 1950m maiden was won fairly comfortably, in the end, by Spirit Of Scotland, ridden confidently by South African Sherman Brown, opening his account for the campaign on just his fourth ride since joining Rashed Bouresly’s yard in Ras Al Khaimah. Owned by the Bouresly Racing Syndicate, Spirit Of Scotland, a 4yo colt by Girolamo, was having just his fourth career start and third for new connections having had one outing, on Irish Derby weekend in June 2017, for Godolphin and Michael Halford in Ireland.
His dam, Forty Greeta, was the Champion Juvenile Filly of 2003 in her native Argentina before switching to the UAE where she failed to land a blow in three starts, the final one in a 1400m Jebel Ali handicap having also contested the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks.Settled in midfield by Brown, the pair made smooth progress halfway up the long straight before throwing down a challenge to Compliance who had led almost from the outset under Pat Cosgrave. He proved a hard horse to pass and it was only in the final 200m Brown’s mount gained the initiative before pulling away in the closing stages to win by a length.A delighted Brown said: “I only arrived last Wednesday and things have been going very well with the horses performing nicely on the track.
“There are some nice horses in the yard. Spirit Of Scotland has won that quite nicely and, being a big horse, can hopefully improve.” The final race of 2018 at Jebel Ali, a 1200m handicap, was appropriately won by the ‘home team’ with Chris Hayes driving home Call To War, trained on the track by Nicholas Bachalard for racecourse patron, Sheikh Ahmed, the pair securing a hard fought success.Beaten in a photograph, over the same course and distance a month earlier, the 4yo gelded son of High Cotton was doubling his local tally having won over 1200m at Meydan in March and also won once in the US, on his debut as a juvenile. That was in June 2016 over 1000m at Gulfstream Park. “He deserved that having been just denied last time,” Bachalard said. “That is the perfect end to our year to win with our last runner of 2018.”