Ed Marnane: Dubai – Erwan Charpy, who has a lengthy association with racing in the UAE going back nearly three decades, looks to have an exciting prospect on his hands with Farook, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Formerly trained by Charles Hills, he created a big impression on his local debut at Jebel Ali last month, easily brushing aside his 15 rivals when storming clear in the closing stages. The lightly raced son of Raven’s Pass looks the one they all have to beat on Friday from a plum draw in the 1000m handicap, Race 4.
Thirty minutes earlier, 12 three-year-olds have been declared for the 1000m conditions race, restricted to the Classic generation and the most valuable race of the afternoon. The penalised Circle Dream, a winner at Meydan on his racecourse debut, sets the standard, stepping back to the minimum distance after struggling behind Daffg over 1400m at Meydan last week. Satish Seemar’s charge has the benefit of a decent draw and makes plenty of appeal.
The in-form Salem bin Ghadayer, who celebrated a treble at Jebel Ali’s last fixture two weeks ago, saddles Arroway, a surprise winner on the first start here earlier in the season. The US-bred colt is closely matched with Circle Dream when they clashed eight days ago, finishing one place and two lengths ahead of Seemar’s horse. He clearly commands respect as he’s proven at Jebel Ali, unlike most of his rivals.
The hat-trick chasing Sea Skimmer puts his perfect record this season on the line in the opening race, run over 1800m. Trained by Helal Al Alawi, an emerging force of the training ranks in recent years, Sea Skimmer caught the eye when scoring on his local debut at Jebel Ali in November before following up in his first start in handicap company at Meydan the following month. The son of Dubawi is very unexposed and looks up to winning this.
Aslan, trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, has been in good order this winter, posting a couple of wins at Jebel Ali and snapping a lengthy losing run going back to his local debut nearly three years ago. As a result, he has risen in the weights and has to defy a stiff mark.
French import Au Coeur, trained by Satish Seemar, opened his account on his Jebel Ali debut two weeks ago, defeating Cherkes Pharoah and nine others in a modest maiden when making all. It was a race that didn’t take much winning as Godolphin’s Perfect Sense, the odds-on favourite, ran dismally. Au Coeur will need to take a step forward off his revised mark and will find it tough to dominate his 10 rivals on Friday.
Race 2, the 1600m handicap, has attracted the biggest field of the day with a maximum field of 16 declared. Cachao and Igloo, who landed maidens on their last visit to Jebel Ali, arrive in good form and should be in the mix. Pictograph, a winner at Jebel Ali, last season, has been knocking on the door all winter and the step back to 1600me is a sensible move after failing to see out 1800m behind Aslan. Untold Secret bounced back to form at Al Ain after a couple of lacklustre runs at Jebel Ali warrants respect in first-time blinkers, while Aleko, absent since March, could reward backers at decent odds.
The finale, a 1200m maiden, looks typically weak, like the majority of UAE maidens. But Barjeel appeals if bouncing back after failing to fire in similar event at Meydan eight days ago. Trained by Ali Rashid Al Rayhi, he showed plenty of promise behind Cachao on his local debut after a break. He made the early running until lack of a fitness told in the closing stages, fading to finish third.
Loures rates the biggest danger on his Jebel Ali debut for trainer Maria Ritchie. The fitting of first-time blinkers is a positive equipment change for this lazy five-year-old, who ran well when making the frame in a couple of maidens at Meydan earlier in the season. He failed to land a telling blow behind Storyboard on his most recent appearance, staying on late to finish a never-nearer sixth.
Satish Seemar is responsible for a quarter of the field, with the Richard Mullen-ridden Lavaspin looking the main hope on riding arrangements. Winner of a trial at Meydan in late November, he won’t need to be above average to play a leading role on his racecourse debut.