Dubai: Atlantic Brave and Escape Route provided a unique finish to the Shadwell Farm sponsored feature race at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday, as they crossed the line locked together in a dead-heat following a thrilling final half furlong.
The latter had come out on top when the pair last met at this course in March, but yesterday’s result seemed totally appropriate given the fighting qualities that both horses displayed.
Atlantic Brave, with Wayne Smith in the saddle, appeared to have had the race won 50 metres from home, but Richard Mullen’s late thrust on Escape Route ensured that the prize would be shared by the respective trainers, Musabah Al Muhairi and Satish Seemar.
Seemar, who was completing a meet double having won the maiden’s race 30 minutes earlier with Ra’oud, was full of praise for Escape Route.
“We were a bit unlucky, as we were closed in for such a long time and Richard had nowhere to go,” said the handler. “Going up a hill it costs you momentum.
“But still full credit to the horse, he has such a big heart.”
Assessing the options for the eight-year-old son of Elusive Quality Seemar said: “He’s got limited races at Jebel Ali, perhaps we will still look at the Mile and the Jebel Ali Stakes. Then we could go to Meydan after that, as he hasn’t run that badly at the course. He’s even won there in 2010.
“I think with the way the surface is running this year, it’s a lot better and it suits horses like Escape Route. He is a horse that has won from five furlongs to a mile and a quarter, so we will have several options. But he can be a moody horse so everything depends on his attitude on the day.”
Al Muhairi was thrilled with the result and the return to form of Atlantic Brave, who won this race in 2011.
“He’s not getting any younger so are happy to see that he still has a hunger for winning races,” said the Emirati handler. “He’s in good shape and has run a big race today. Hopefully, we’ll bring him back for the big races and then see where we can go with him. He ran a good race in the Carnival at Meydan last year so we hope we can do the same this season.”
Resident Jebel Ali handler Dhruba Selvaratnam opened his account for the season when Kessraa ran away with Arabian Scandinavian Insurance Co Handicap over seven furlongs.
Ridden confidently by stable jockey James Doyle, a much fitter looking Kessraa stormed home six lengths clear of top-weight Dherghaam, ridden by apprentice Omar Ahmad.
The performance more than pleased Selvaratnam who said: “We had to work on his fitness as he was carrying a heavy gut. He’s really come on since his last outing and we are really happy with that performance.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Dr Jaber Bittar’s Bouthayna Al Reef won the HH Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Breeders Society Challenge for Purebred Arabians.