Majed Al Jahouri has not wasted any time in providing his Dubai Kahayla Classic hope with a Prep race after entering Shahm in Thursday’s Group 3 Al Ain Mile.
Shahm was withdrawn from the Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3, the traditional trial for the Kahayla, last week on the orders of the steward when he got unruly in the starting gates at Meydan. Al Jahouri has therefore opted for the Al Ain Mile as the next best option ahead of the race on Dubai World Cup night.
“He got restless after loaded into the starting stalls and was withdrawn, which was very unfortunate,” the Al Wathba Racing Stable trainer said.
“He needs a prep race and the next best option we have is the Al Ain Mile. He last ran on the All-Weather in December, and won it, before being flown out of France.
“His last race was his first in 15 months after he picked up an injury in a Group 1 race at the Arc [Prix de l'arc de triomphe] meeting at Longchamp. He’s come back well from that setback but needs another outing ahead of the Kahayla.”
Al Jahouri’s second entry, Bandar under Fernando Jara, went on to win the Al Maktoum Challenge and the Emirati is convinced that Shahm could have won the race even more comfortably.
“In the morning track work, Shahm comes clear of Bandar every time they have a little contest between them,” Al Jahouri said.
“And having seen how Bandar won the Al Maktoum Challenge, I would like to think Shahm would have won it more easily, judging the race.
“But having said that, Shahm is not guaranteed to win the Kahayla because horse racing remains one of the hardest to predict.
“Right now, what we want to see is how he fares in his first local start and of course how he behaves at the starting gates at Al Ain. Other than that we are very pleased with his work and his condition.”
Shahm, with Richard Mullen on the saddle, is the highest rated (120) in the 13-runner field. He has won five times in 10 career starts including the Group 1 President of the UAE Cup at Longchamp, France.
Spearheading the challenge are Omani raider Rasi (Harry Bentley) and RB Lam Tara (Fabrice Veron), the winner and runner-up respectively of the Group 2 Mazrat Al Ruwayah at Meydan on February 13.
Rasi was impressive on his Meydan debut and that result has propelled his rating to 118. His handler, Sulaiman Al Ghunaim, will be hoping his nine-year-old can build on that success and bolster his chances in the Kahayla.