DUBAI // Jebel Ali's 12th meeting of the season features the course's third and final listed contest of the season - the Sprint Prep at 3.50pm. A maximum field of 16 has been declared, but it is hard to see beyond Impenetrable. He is from the yard of Ali Rashid al Raihe, who, with 23 winners, is leading the overall trainers' championship by one from defending champion Doug Watson.
And Impenetrable has also won over course and distance before. Nobody who saw him open up three-and-a-quarter lengths over runner-up Satwa Street in the January 29 Conditions race on the uphill finish could doubt his credentials. Jailani Siddiqi, al Raihe's assistant, said he had high hopes for the horse. "He is improving and has done nothing wrong this season," he said. "He has been a very good horse for us and is proven at Jebel Ali. "
As far as serious opposition goes, Mannjal must be considered the main threat. The Dhruba Selvaratnam charge has not ran over five furlongs before, but after failing to shine at a Meydan Racecourse outing at the start of the month, he is back on the track he likes the best. Ridden by William Buick, who knows this course better than as he is based at the track with Selvaratnam, Mannjal has won over six furlongs at Jebel Ali.
Although the drop in trip may catch many out, Mannjal is sharp and his jockey strong in a finish. The horse tends to travel well in his races and so is likely to be in the mix. The team at Grandstand Stables has also made a mark at Meydan Racecourse, where, due to the influx of highly rated international runners, it is often more diffi- cult for local trainers to draw blood. But al Raihe saddled Al Shemali to victory in the Visa Infinite Card Handicap last week under stable jockey Royston Ffrench.
Afterwards Ffrench said he was wary that the yard could become a victim of its own success. "When things are going so well you always wonder when the wheels are going to come off," said the rider, who with 28 wins shares the top of the overall joc-key's championship with Tadhg O'Shea. Yet Siddiqi is confident of more success. We have had a great season and we are hopeful there is more to come," he said. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org