Ed Marnane: Punters will have to be patient on Friday and wait for the best bet on the card at Jebel Ali’s opening fixture of 2019 when Compliance runs in the finale, a 1600m maiden.
Trained by Helal Al Alawi, Compliance has been knocking on the door on his recent visits to Jebel Ali, the latest when agonisingly caught in the dying strides by the shock winner Spirit Of Scotland two weeks ago.
The consistent and reliable son of Exceed and Excel will appreciate the step back in distance and, in a moderate event, should finally open his account in the hands of top Irish rider Billy Lee, who has enjoyed success at the course Ali this winter.
The feature, a valuable 1000m conditions race restricted to the classic generation, has drawn a field of 13 runners, with top-weight Eyelool the only previous winner in the line-up.
Formerly trained by William Haggas, Eyelool arrives in the UAE for new trainer Nicholas Bachalard with a decent record, winning two of his five races in the UK. Based on jockey bookings, he doesn’t look the first choice of the home team as stable jockey Chris Hayes has elected to ride the once-raced Salayel.
This daughter of Bated Breath was strongly fancied for a maiden on her racecourse debut at Meydan last month, but having got stirred up at the start she never fired and trailed in a remote ninth behind Al Hayette. It would be no surprise if she left that form well behind and she cannot be overlooked, particularly as she trains over the track every day.
Kuwaiti trainer Rashed Bouresly enjoyed success at Jebel Ali’s latest meeting and his representative Shanaghai City is a player, now connections have dropped him to the minimum distance. In two appearances at Meydan, he has shown bags of speed before weakening in the closing stages.
The handicaps on the programme all look competitive. Kidd Malibu, a winner at Jebel Ali on his local debut, ran well here last month, keeping on nicely in the closing stages to run third behind Call To War and he should put up a bold show in the 1200m handicap, Race 2.
Jim Crowley, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s first choice rider, has chosen top-weight Sahaafy ahead of Kidd Malibu and the rest of Sheikh Hamdan’s runners. Trained by Musabbeh Al Mheiri, he has progressed with racing this season and wasn’t beaten far in a course and distance handicap last month.
Pinter gave Erwan Charpy his first winner of the season and he looks to supplement that victory in the hands of Antonio Fresu. This test is a marked step up in grade and he’ll need to step forward to follow up.
From the foot of the weights, Ajwad is a leading contender, despite being sent back to action just six days after contesting a competitive 16-runner handicap on turf at Meydan. Racing of a much higher mark, he only failed to see off the late challenge of Azmaam having tried to make all. He won’t be inconvenienced switching to Jebel Ali, a venue where he has enjoyed success in the past.
Galles, runner-up in the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes last winter, can defy top weight in the 1950m handicap, Race 5, for trainer Sandeep Jadhav.
Having struggled to recapture his best form since returning from his summer break he produced his best run of the season to date on his latest appearance, when chasing home Tried And True over this course and distance. Ideally berthed in stall one for a horse that likes to race handy, he’ll be hard to run down if allowed a soft lead.
Cape Of Eagles, twice a winner at Jebel Ali already this season, is an obvious threat, while the unexposed Spirit Of Scotland looks to supplement his recent maiden win here on his handicap debut and is one to consider in a race few really appeal.
Race 1: 4 AL MUHALHAL AL THANI 2 AF MUMTAZ 1 AF AL JAHED 12 JAAHIZ
Race 2: 10 KIDD MALIBU 16 AJWAD 1 SAHAAFY 3 EBJAAR
Race 3: 8 UNTOLD SECRET 7 TRENCHARD 9 CRAVING 4 BERKSHIRE BOY
Race 4: 8 SHANAGHAI CITY 13 SALAYEL 1 EYELOOL 7 REFULGENCE STAR
Race 5: 1 GALLES 6 CAPE OF EAGLES 9 SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND 2 BOIS DE BOULOGNE
Race 6: 14 FIRST DOWN 10 ISLAND SOUND 7 HAWKER 13 EPSILON
Race 7: 2 COMPLIANCE 3 DANGEROUS THOUGHT 7 LOYAL SOLDIER 6 JOCKEY JOE
Best Bet: 2 Compliance (Race 7)
Best Value: 7 Trenchard (Race 3)
Best Swinger: 10 Kidd Malibu and 1 Sahaafy (Race 2)
Jackpot (Races 4-7): 1: 1, 8, 13 x 1, 2, 6, 9 x 7, 10, 13, 14 x 2 (R48)