Dubai: Trainer Satish Seemar, who was off to a flyer at Meydan’s season open last Thursday, can keep the momentum going when Jebel Ali Racecourse hosts its first meeting of the season on Friday.
The seven-race card is highlighted by a 13-runner handicap sponsored by Jebel Ali’s Pillar Partner, Shadwell, among them being last year’s winner of the race, High On Life.
Trained by Salem Bin Ghadayer at Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Fazza Stables, High On Life has been a prolific performer and boasts five UAE wins including four at Jebel Ali, a track that obviously suits the eight-year-old son of Invincible Spirit.
However, our vote goes to the Seemar-trained Riflescope, who was second to High On Life in this contest 12 months ago, with Erwan Charpy’s Tadbir also holding strong claims in the 1,400-metre contest.
Seemar, who saddled a double at Meydan including sweeping the top four places in one of the them, is also represented by Bochart, the chosen mount of stable jockey Richard Mullen, while the condition’s third contender, Above Normal, will be ridden by Turkey’s Szcepan Mazur.
Riflescope will be partnered by Brazilian jockey Jose Santiago.
Jockey Royston Ffrench, who is seeking a fifth win on High On Life, said: “We know he likes it at Jebel Ali and he showed he stays 1,400m last year in this race. He seems in good form at home and should run well in a strong race.”
Frenchman Nicholas Bachalard, who begins his second term at the Jebel Ali Stables, is represented by Haalick with UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea on aboard.
A six-year-old Roderic O’Connor gelding, Haalick won twice in Britain when trained by Roger Varian, including the 1,400m Listed Spring Cup Stakes on the Lingfield Polytrack in March 2016.
After making four unsuccessful appearances on the turf in 2017, Haalick makes his dirt debut at him home track in what looks an ultra-competitive race.
“He has been working well, but will be entitled to improve for the run after almost two years off,” Bachalard said. “He is a nice horse and whatever he achieves on Friday, we are hoping he can have a good season.”
Rocket Power, a five-timer scorer last season, looks a leading player in the race, and has the assistance of jockey Connor Beasley who had a fruitful 2018-2019 UAE season.
Trainer Ahmad bin Harmash commented on Rocket Power’s chances: “He is as fit as we can get him for his first run back and he is in good form, but should benefit from the outing. He likes Jebel Ali and we are hoping for a good run.”
Rocket Power is owned by Mohammad Khalifa Al Basti, who is also represented by Mystique Moon and Just A Penny, both of whom are trained by former champion handler Doug Watson.
“We are happy with both our runners with the 1400m probably better for Mystique Moon, but there is not a suitable race over further for Just A Penny until much later in the year,” said Watson.
“They are both ready for a run and have been working well, so hopefully, go there with every chance on a course they like.”
The race is sponsored by Shadwell, the UK breeding arm of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose blue and white silks will be carried by three runners.
Stable jockey Dane O’Neill, who makes an early seasonal debut, has opted to ride Eqtiraan for veteran Emirati handler Ali Rashid Al Rayhi.
The other Shaikh Hamdan-owned contenders are Zainhom, who is trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, and Charpy’s Tadbir.
“He showed last season he handles the surface at Jebel Ali and was beaten by two good horses,” said Charpy. “This is a strong race, but we are very happy with him and looking forward to running him.”
Due to the packed seven-race card, racing will kick-off early at Jebel Ali on Friday with the first race scheduled for 1.45pm.