Jebel Ali to kick off horse racing in UAE in 2023

Mersaal leads trio in the silks of racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid in the race

Mersaal under Jean van Overmeire made a winning racecourse debut at Jebel Ali on November 5, 2022. – Adiyat Racing Plus
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Jebel Ali Racecourse kicks off the New Year with the first meeting of 2023 on Sunday, a mixed seven-race card highlighted by the Jebel Ali Mile Pre.

The feature race has drawn eight runners, three of which run n the popular silks of the racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid.

The Jebel Ali Stables trainer Michael Costa, in his first season in the UAE, sends out two of the trio with Mersaal seemingly the main hope under stable jockey Jean van Overmeire.

The four-year-old Ghostzapper gelding won his first two starts on his home track before a disappointing run saw him finish second last in a field of 14 at Meydan on December 9.

Mersaal was impressive in his first two starts. He won a maiden over 1,200 metres and followed up with a victory in a handicap over the track and trip over Down On Da Bayou.

Racecard

1.45pm: Bin Dasmal Contracting Cup – Maiden (PA) Dh50,000 (Dirt) 1,200m
2.15pm: Al Shafar Investment Cup – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,200m
2.45pm: 2023 Cup by Emirates sprint series – Handicap (TB) Dh84,000 (D) 1,200m
3.15pm: HIVE Cup – Handicap (TB) Dh68,000 (D) 1,400m
3.45pm: Jebel Ali Mile Prep by Shadwell – Conditions (TB) Dh100,000 (D) 1,600m
4.15pm: JARC Cup – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,600m
4.45pm: Deira Cup by Emirates Sprint series – Handicap (TB) Dh76,000 (D) 1,950m

His heavy Meydan defeat was a disappointment but Costa did at least saddle the winner for Sheikh Ahmed, his Tahdeed landing the 1,600m dirt handicap from Down On Da Bayou.

The owner’s third contender, Katheall, saddled by Salem bin Ghadayer has shown little on either Jebel Ali appearance to date and will be partnered by Xavier Ziani, with the stable jockey Royston Ffrench opting to partner the aforementioned Down On Da Bayou.

Down On Da Bayou, now five, is best remembered for her stunning success in the Group 3 UAE Oaks in 2020 when she powered home by more than 18 lengths on that occasion.

She did not win again until Christmas Eve 2021, over this Jebel Ali 1,600m distance, and followed up over the same course and distance at the end of January 2022. Runner-up on her two most recent races this season, she arrives here in good heart and, as a mare, receives weight from her seven rivals.

Doug Watson also saddles two with Dane O’Neill partnering Fanaar for his main employer, Shadwell. A winner here at Jebel Ali on his last two appearances, but over 1,400m. He has not won over 1,600m but is clearly thriving at present and looks a major contender.

With stable jockey Pat Dobbs suspended, Sam Hitchcott, also based with Watson at Red Stables, will be aboard the trainer’s second runner, Prevent, twice a Jebel Ali winner over 1,800m last season for previous trainer Ahmad bin Harmash.

This seasonal debut will be his first start for Watson and it would be no major surprise were he to run a big race with the yard in great form, especially at Jebel Ali.

Bin Harmash saddles local debutant Secret Victory who has not been seen in public since April 2021 having won two of his previous seven outings for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin, both on all-weather surfaces.

The field is completed by Ibra Attack, already twice successful at Jebel Ali this season, as with Fanaar over 1,400m both times. The mount of Antonio Fresu, he will be trying 1,600m for the first time, on just his fifth career outing, but has really carried the flag for trainer Ahmed Al Shemaili from his new base at Grandstand Stables.

Updated: December 31, 2022, 9:57 AM
Racecard

1.45pm: Bin Dasmal Contracting Cup – Maiden (PA) Dh50,000 (Dirt) 1,200m
2.15pm: Al Shafar Investment Cup – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,200m
2.45pm: 2023 Cup by Emirates sprint series – Handicap (TB) Dh84,000 (D) 1,200m
3.15pm: HIVE Cup – Handicap (TB) Dh68,000 (D) 1,400m
3.45pm: Jebel Ali Mile Prep by Shadwell – Conditions (TB) Dh100,000 (D) 1,600m
4.15pm: JARC Cup – Maiden (TB) Dh60,000 (D) 1,600m
4.45pm: Deira Cup by Emirates Sprint series – Handicap (TB) Dh76,000 (D) 1,950m

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