Dubai: Eyelool, a two-time winner when previously raced in the UK, looks the one to beat in the Shadwell Farm Handicap, the feature race of a well-filled card of seven races at Jebel Ali Racecoure on Friday.
Now in the care of new Jebel Ali Stables trainer Nicholas Bachalard, the three-year-old son of Dragon Pulse is the pick of the 12 runners contesting the juvenile contest.
After winning his maiden at Epsom Racecourse in the UK in July, Eyelool showed plenty of guts to capture a handicap on the all-weather at Kempton prior to leaving Derby-winning handler William Haggas’s stable en route to Dubai.
He clearly has the edge on his rivals given the experience he has gained running on several tracks in the UK and is reportedly to be training well as he prepares to make his Dubai debut at his home track.
Interestingly, jockey Chris Hayes, who is retained by Jebel Ali Stables owner Maj Gen Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, elects to partner Salayel, who is one of four fillies in the race and well beaten on her only start, three weeks ago, in a 1,600m fillies’ maiden at Meydan.
Purchased for €200,000 last May from the Goresbridge Breeze-Up, the Bated Breath filly is a half-sister to the very useful Bellamy Road, winner of the 2005 Grade 1 Wood Memorial, on dirt, at Aqueduct.
“Salayel was a bit disappointing at Meydan,” Bachalard said. “She probably needed the run more than we thought and it was a new experience with the lights and everything, so hopefully — in an environment she knows — she can run better.
“This is a good opportunity to try Eyelool on the dirt. If he does not seem to handle it we will look for turf options with him.”
The New Maharaja made a winning debut in this race last year for Satish Seemar, who saddles three runners this time.
Stable jockey Richard Mullen has opted takes the ride on Refulgence Star, making his UAE debut after three starts in Ireland for trainer Willie McCreery.
Newcomers Phoenix Ladies Syndicate struck pay dirt with their two very first runners at Meydan and they now turn their attention to Jebel Ali with Ahmad Bin Harmash saddling both a filly, Lady Winslow, and colt, Golden Jaguar.
Of the rest, Shanaghai City could be a big danger for Rashed Bouresly, who saddled second and third in this race last year. A $47,000 Keeneland September yearling, the Shanghai Bobby colt was then sold as a juvenile at the Tattersalls Ireland Ascot Breeze-Up for £55,000 and has displayed plenty of speed in both starts, over 1,600m and 1,400m, at Meydan. On the strength of those runs the 1,000m could play to his advantage.
Another interesting contender is the Sandeep Jadhav-trained and American-bred colt Ma Yahab.
Racing opens with a 16-runner Purebred Arabian contest which looks a very open race.