Dubai: The opening day’s action of the 2012-2013 UAE flat racing season at Jebel Ali underscored the fact that the right pairing of trainer and jockey can be lethal, with honours shared between top trainers Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Musabah Al Muhairi, Satish Seemar and their retained riders.
Three-time champion trainer Ali Raihe continued from where he left off last season to land the afternoon’s feature race — the Shadwell-sponsored 1,000m handicap — with the well-ridden Hajoum.
The six-year-old Darley-bred son of Exceed And Excel spiritedly defied top weight when running out a half-length winner over Pick Six favourite My Verse, ridden by Pat Cosgrave for resident Jebel Ali handler Dhruba Selvaratnam.
Hajjaan, the mount of Daragh O’Donohoe, stormed through to lead a furlong from home before he was reined in by the tenacious Hajoum, who was given a faultless ride by Royston Ffrench.
“He’s a horse that’s got so much natural speed that I was able to sit second and make my move closer to home,” said Ffrench, who looks set for another successful season as retained jockey with Al Raihe. “In the end he did it very nicely.”
Al Raihe and Ffrench went on to complete a meet double with Myownway in the Al Tal Engineering handicap over 1,200m. Ffrench had it a lot easier this time around with the five-year-old son of Dubawi cantering home a five-length winner over the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Special Boy.
However, thirty minutes later Straight Talk won the closing race of the afternoon, the Power Point handicap over 1,400m, to also nail an opening-day double for the Al Muhairi who earlier had the honour of winning the first race of the new season with Mashaaref. Both horses were ridden by his long-serving stable jockey Wayne Smith.
Seemar, a former champion trainer and one of the pioneers of his trade in the region, also got his season off to a good start by visiting the winner’s enclosure twice courtesy of Glenleven in the Al Shafar maiden over 1,000m and later with hot favourite Al Razi in the 1,200m Al Redha Insurance handicap.
Glenleven battled hard for his half-length victory over Al Muhairi’s Grand Duchy and impressed Seemar with the qualities he displayed. “This horse impresses when he works at home. He did not like it at Meydan last season, but bring him to Jebel Ali and he’s simply amazing,” he said.
Mullen was also full of praise for the son of Forest Wildcat, saying: “He’s very talented and has been training very well. I get the easy part, I’ve just got to keep him going straight.”
Race 1 — Commercial Bank of Dubai (Thoroughbreds 3yo+ rated 60-85) 1,600m (Dirt):
1. Mashaaref (M Al Muhairi) W Smith; 2. Final Recovery (D Watson) P Dobbs; 3. Crackdown (E Charpy) T O’Shea; 4. Enjoy Today (A Al Raihe) R Ffrench. Distances: 7lengths, 1.25L, 2.25L. Time: 01:33:43secs (Hand timed)
Race 2 — Al Shafar Investment (Thoroughbreds 3yo+ Maiden) 1,000m (Dirt):
1. Glenleven (S Seemar) R Mullen; 2. Grand Duchy (M Al Muhairi) W Smith; 3. Desert of Dreams (A Al Raihe) S Al Mazrooei; 4. Ballroom Blitz (D Watson) P Dobbs. Distances: 0.5lenghts, 4L, 5L. Time: 01:00:05secs (Hand timed)
Race 3 — Shadwell (Thoroughbreds 3yo+ rated 70-95) 1,000m (Dirt):
1. Hajoum (A Al Raihe) R Ffrench; 2. My Verse (D Selvaratnam) P Cosgrave; 3. Hajjaan (M Al Muhairi) D O’Donohoe; 4. Celtic King (M Al Muhairi) W Smith. Distances: 0.5lengths, Nose, 2.5L. Time: 01:00:04secs (Hand timed)
Race 4 — Al Redha Insurance Brokers (Thoroughbreds 3o+ rated 65-80) 1,200m (Dirt):
1. Al Razi (S Seemar) R Mullen; 2. Ganas (E Oertel) T O’Shea; 3. Serhaal (A Al Raihe) S Al Mazrooei; 4. Formal Demand (D Watson) P Dobbs. Distances: Neck, 1.75L, 1.25L. Time: 01:12:80secs (Hand timed)
Race 5 — Al Tal Engineering (Thoroughbreds 3yo+ rated 55-70) 1,200m (Dirt):
1. Myownway (A Al Raihe) R Ffrench; 2. Special Boy (M Al Muhairi) W Smith; 3. Pastel Blue (R Bouresly) T Koyuncu; 4. Shark In The Sea (A Al Raihe) S Al Mazrooei). Distances: 5lengths, 1.75L, Head. Time: 01:13:30secs (Hand timed)
Race 6 — Power Point (Thoroughbreds 3yo + rated 65-90) 1,400m (Dirt):
1. Straight Talk (M Al Muhairi) W Smith; 2. Hacioenda (D Watson) P Dobbs; 3. Daboos (D Watson) D O’Neill; 4. Ana Emarati (A Al Raihe) R Ffrench. Distances: 3.5lengths, 2.5L, 1.25. Time: 01:26:00secs (Hand timed)