Dubai: Jebel Ali Racecourse hosts its second meeting of the season on Friday with the feature race of the afternoon, the 1,400-metre Derrinstown Stud Conditions Stakes, looking an ultra-competitive race.
It will be interesting to see if Beachy Head, winner of this race last season, can bring it on again and give Emirati handler Ali Rashid Al Rayhi another feature race victory at the track following Kasb two weeks ago.
However, several top contenders in the contest including Salem Bin Ghadayer’s High On Life, and the Doug Watson pair of Stunned and Ennobled Friend, it looks a big challenge.
Beachy Head won three times over the seven-furlong trip at Jebel Ali and that would suggest that he saves his best for the track which features a daunting hill finish.
He will be ridden by apprentice Liam Tarentaal who will be having just his second ride in the UAE, with Al Rayhi’s stable jockey, Tadhg O’Shea partnering newcomer Daily Bulletin.
“These choices are never easy but Daily Bulletin is a new horse in the yard and one I really like,” said O’Shea. “He won twice for John Gosden in England but has been off more than a year, so whatever he achieves on Friday he will improve for the run.
“With Liam’s 3 kgs claim, Beachy Head should be competitive and we at Grandstand Stables also have Mushaakis in the field, like Beachy Head, proven at Jebel Ali.”
Speaking earlier this week, Al Rayhi said: “It is nice to have three good chances in the big race on Friday and I hope that all my horses run well.
“Tadhg thinks Daily Bulletin is a nice horse for the future, while Beachy Head and Mushaakis (Dane O’Neill) really like it at Jebel Ali.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, who owns Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of his Shadwell breeding empire, also has two other contenders.
Oasis Stables’ handler Maria Ritchie sends out Azmaam and Shaishee — the latter being the 1400m Jebel Ali track record holder.
Interestingly, stable jockey, Fernando Jara, has elected to partner her third contender, Billingsgate who has his first start for the yard.
First season Jebel Ali Stables handler Gopi Selvaratnam is doubly represented with both Gobooll and Call To War who are trained on the track
Promising Irish rider Oisin Murphy returns as stable jockey to Jebel Ali after a gap of three years.
Selvaratnam said: “Oisin’s been with us before so he knows how we operate. It does help a lot.
“It was not difficult to get him to say yes to being our stable jockey for the season, as he wanted a break from Hong Kong.
“Since his last stint here he’s matured a lot and is one of the top ten jockey’s in the UK if not the world,” added the trainer.
“He makes sure he knows everything about the horses he rides and puts in a lot of homework. He’s a thinking jockey and I’m sure he’ll be a big asset to Jebel Ali Racecourse this season.
“I’m really looking forward to working with him again.”
Salem Bin Ghadayer looks to have the horse with the strongest chances in the race, High On Life the mount of Xavier Ziani.
A 1,200m course winner in March, he then contested the Group 1 Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan in March, a race won by Mind Your Biscuits.
“He has been going well in training and likes Jebel Ali,” said Bin Ghadayer. “Hopefully he should run well.”
Pat Dobbs rides Stunned, a winner over track and trip last December, for Doug Watson who said: “We have been very pleased with his preparation and he seems in good form but is going to benefit for the outing. “Conditions, we know, suit him and he should give a good account of himself in what looks an open race.”
The meeting opens with the HH Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Breeders Society Challenge with the maximum field of 16 set to face the starter.
O’Shea, who partners Al Qassif, said: “The last time I rode for the owner I had a winner at Sharjah and have ridden plenty of winners in those famous colours so hopefully I can add to the tally.”
Al Qassif is one of four in the field trained by Ernst Oertel with Richard Mullen’s mount AF Esnad, perhaps the one to beat.
Race 1: AF Esnad 1; 2. Al Qassif
Race 2: 1. Muharrib; 2. Denzille Lane.
race 3: 1. High On Life; 2. Stunned.
Race 4: 1. Chess Master; 2. Gervais
Race 5: 1. Finishing Touch; 2. Aslan
Race 5: 1. Kalkrand: 2. Tradesman.
Day’s Best: High On Life