Dubai: American-import Draco will bid to establish his potential to inherit the mantel of Jebel Ali Stables’ longline of track stars by winning Friday’s Shadwell-sponsored feature race.
The three-year-old set a marker when he made an eye-catching debut at Jebel Ali Racecourse four weeks ago and looks the one to beat in the 1,600-metre contest, which is the showpiece race of an interesting seven-race card.
Ten of the classic generation have been declared for the race, including dual all-weather scorer from the UK, Glenglade, and two UAE newcomers trained by recent centurion, Helal Al Alawi. The Emirati, who trains at The National Stables, notched up a 100th career victory at Abu Dhabi last week, courtesy the Purebred Arabian Da’areen.
Draco, the international favourite, is trained on the Jebel Ali track by Frenchman Nicholas Bachalard for Jebel Ali Racecourse founder Major General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security.
Bacalard acknowledged that the dirt-bred Draco is an exciting addition to his Jebel Ali string but was guarded in his assessment of his charge.
“Draco won well first time and has been in good form since,” Bachalard said. “We are looking forward to running him again but he does have a lot of natural speed, so the extra 200 metres is something of an unknown.”
Course and distance winner Jabir represents inform handler Satish Seemar.
Assistant trainer Bhupat Seemar said: “We know conditions suit him and it is never easy for the 3-year-olds against their elders in those handicaps, so this race against his own age group looks a good one for him.”
Al Aasfa Racing Stables boss Ahmad Bin Harmash saddles Rua Augusta and Sa’ada, the only filly in the race, and a distant fourth in last season’s UAE Oaks (Group 3) at Meydan.
Bin Harmash said: “Both probably have a bit to find, but are in good form at home and we identified this race for them a few weeks ago.”
Sandeep Jadhav, who has his string in fine order, is hoping Arroway can show improvement following a lukewarm performance on his most-recent start at the track.
“We were disappointed with him last time,” said Jadhav. “We are not sure why he ran poorly, but we hope he can bounce back to form.”
The 1,400-metre Derrinstown Stud handicap promises to be a cracker with several Dubai World Cup Carnival aspirants among the 12 declared, which include four who won their most recent outings and three of them at Jebel Ali this season. Seemar and Mullen combine with Above Normal, who is starting to look a course specialist with three victories and a second from six visits.
A course and distance winner in March, he has landed two 1,200-metre handicaps this season, and again returns after a four-week break. Stable companion Ejbaar, to be ridden by Antonio Fresu, ended last season winning a 1,400-metre handicap on the turf at Jinma Lake in China. A dual 1,000-metre Jebel Ali winner, he is owned by Mohammad Khalifa Al Basti as are Rocket Power and Lytham St Annes, both successful on this course two weeks ago.
Trained by Bin Harmash, Rocket Power receives weight from all nine rivals and steps back from 1,600-metre, but was a 1,200-metre Jebel Ali victor in March 2018. Watson and Pat Dobbs combine with Lytham St Annes, who was opening his UAE account when scoring over 1,200 metres.
Watson said: “He is in great form and came out of that race very well indeed, but it looks a strong race on Friday.”
Friday’s meeting opens with the second Purebred Arabian race of the current season at Jebel Ali and the 1,600-metre conditions event has attracted several promising performers among the 12 declared.
Watson saddles Foaad, who is having just a second local start outside of Group Two company.
“He has faced some stiff tasks since joining us, but this looks a great spot for him,” the handler said “Hopefully, he handles the conditions, in which case, he should be thereabouts.”