Dubai: Course specialist Just A Penny is the big horse, literally, for the Jebel Ali Mile Prep, the highlight of an seven-race card to be staged at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday afternoon.
The winner of seven races at the track that is known to favour galloping horses, Just a Penny looks the one the other six contenders will be looking to beat and lay down a marker for the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile on January 25, 2019.
Racing out of the championship winning stables of Doug Watson, the six-year-old son of Kodiac makes his seasonal debut following back-to-back victories at the course in February and March, this year — where he looked great doing it.
On both occasions Just A Penny left his rivals for dead, breezing to victory by over ten lengths.
Conceding weight to all six rivals, Watson’s stable jockey Pat Dobbs rides for owner Mohammad Khalifa Al Basti, to date the most successful owner of Thoroughbreds this season.
Watson said: “He has been training very well and is in great form at home, so we are expecting him to run a big race, but he does have to give away a lot of weight.
“He is a big horse, so carrying the weight should not be an issue. He is also going to improve, condition-wise, for the run in what is the first realistic option we have had for him at Jebel Ali this season.
“His main targets are the Jebel Ali Mile and Jebel Ali Stakes (February 22) and this has been his planned comeback with those races in mind.”
Among Just a Penny’s six rivals is Jebel Ali Stables representative, Albernathy, who was third in the Prep behind the ill-fated Frankyfourfingers 12 months ago.
The mount of Chris Hayes, he has finished third in his last four starts including two outings this season.
He is trained on the Jebel Ali track by Nicholas Bachalard who said: “We are trying blinkers on him
“He has run well both starts at Meydan this season, but we just thought we would try something a bit different, thus the headgear.
“The 2000m last time was perhaps a bit further than ideal, but we think the 1600m here at Jebel Ali will really suit him and that he can run well in a tough little race.”
Emirati handler Musabbeh Al Mheiri saddles two runners for race sponsor Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance. Takatul, who returned from a long break of 446 days to finish an encouraging second in November and Zainhom, who also was off the track for 448 days before making his local debut at the very first meeting of the season, at the end of October, over 1400m at Jebel Ali when staying on well in fifth.
Another Emirati handler Ahmad Bin Harmash saddles Rocket Power, twice a winner at Jebel Ali this season.
Connor Beasley, who is enjoying a successful season in the UAE, said: “He has won his two starts at Jebel Ali this season. This is a much better contest, but he is in good form and should be thereabouts.”
Bin Harmash is also represented by Ennobled Friend.
The seven-race card also features two interesting handicaps over 1950m.