Ed Marnane in Dubai: Jebel Ali stages one of its biggest days of the season on Friday, with the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes and Sprint, two of the oldest races in the UAE racing calendar, sharing top billing.
First run in 1994, the Sprint, Race 5, has attracted a small field with High On Life likely to start at prohibitive odds for Emarati handler Salem bin Ghadayer, the leading trainer at Jebel Ali this season.
The seven-year-old comes into the race in top form, winning the trial here before completing a quick double at Meydan last time, defeating Dutch Masterpiece in a valuable turf handicap. High On Life, third in last year’s renewal, is hard to oppose and is fancied to take his Jebel Ali tally to three.
Farook, runner-up behind the selection on his most recent appearance, faces a stiff task in reversing the form on these terms. Since coming to the UAE this Raven’s Pass gelding has thrived, winning his first two races at Jebel Ali before High On Life wrecked his unblemished record.
Shillong is highly effective at Jebel Ali, winning four of his ten starts, the most recent weeks ago when sent off favourite in an 11-runner handicap four weeks ago. The Dubawi entire is likely to find the 1000m on the sharp side but will be staying on strongly in the closing stages, and could emerge the biggest threat to High On Life at the business-end.
Earlier, eight go to post for the Jebel Ali Stakes and is doesn’t look a strong renewal. The penalised Shamaal Nibras, winner of the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile last month, is a leading candidate despite reservations about his stamina to see out the 1950m, having never won over further than 1600m in his career.
Farrier, last year’s Jebel Ali Stakes winner, was struggling for form until finishing a five-length third behind Shamaal Nibras four weeks ago. He’s weighted to get closer today and stepping back up in a distance is clearly in his favour.
Of the others, the course specialist Mizbah merits respect. This veteran, a respectable fifth behind Farrier 12 months ago, ran creditably on his seasonal debut at Meydan in November. It’s an obvious concern he hasn’t been seen since but he has a decent record returning from a break, and could be dangerous to overlook.
The once-raced Lavaspin, trained by Satish Seemar, should open his account in the finale, a modest 1400m maiden. This US-bred gelding made an encouraging start in a similar event here last month, only being caught close home by Loures. He should have benefited for the experience and this looks a good opportunity. He should be too strong for his 11 rivals and rates the best bet on the programme.
Racing gets underway with a 1950m handicap, attracting a competitive 10-runner field. Doug Watson fields a leading candidate in the shape of the consistent and reliable Tradesman, a winner here earlier in the season.
Bois De Boulogne enjoyed success on his last visit to Jebel Ali and represents an in-form yard, and warrants respect, while the unexposed Mudaarab, a good fourth in a big field at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, has decent claims. He tries dirt for the first time, but being by Distorted Humor he has the pedigree to take to the surface.
Kowaiyess can follow-up his recent win at Jebel Ali in the 1600m handicap, Race 2. Formerly trained in Britain he has improved for the switch to the Emirates, showing plenty of promise on his local debut at Al Ain before producing a career-best when impressing here two weeks ago.
This son of Exceed And Excel, who has never raced further than 1200m in his career, is not guaranteed to see out today’s trip, but the manner in which he powered clear in the closing stages last time suggests he can handle the step up in distance today.
Best Bet: 4 Lavaspin [Race 6]
Best Value: 3 Shillong [Race 5]
Best Swinger: 3 Shillong and 1 Farook and [Race 5]
Jackpot [Races 3-6]
Leg 1: 1, 2, 5, 8
Leg 2: 1, 7
Leg 3: 1, 2, 3
Leg 4: 4
Total R 24