THE JEBEL ALI STAKES PREP (1950m) sponsored by Emirates Airline, the featured event at Friday afternoon’s eighth meeting of the Jebel Ali Racecourse season produced a popular outcome when the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Haatheq made his first visit to the Winner’s Circle since taking the 2013/2014 season version of the contest.
The admirable nine-year-old, homebred by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had run some big races in defeat since that previous victory, including finishing second in the 2014 Group 2 Godolphin Mile (1600m) on the Dubai World Cup programme.
He had also gone close to big race glory at Jebel Ali when twice second to Treble Jig (2012 & 2013) in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile (1600m).
Ridden by the owner’s retained first jockey Paul Hanagan, he tracked leader Busatto and halfway up the long straight it appeared the pair would fight out the finish until Hanagan took Haatheq to the front 300 metres from home.
With Busatto tiring, it was left to Bluff and Pupil to chase him to the finish.
“He is something of a legend in the yard, said Hanagan. “He deserved to get his head in front again but it was quite hard work and the last 400m felt a long way.
“It was a strange race because so few horses really managed to get competitive.
“He is versatile regarding trip but I imagine he will be back here for the Stakes itself.”
Sheikh Hamdan and Hanagan went on to complete a double, courtesy of Dairam who beat old adversary, Mathematics, in the concluding Arabian Adventures Handicap (1000m). They had beaten the same rival in a race over 200 metres further at the previous meeting, two weeks ago.
Dairam is trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, also completing a brace, after Conform With Fact, who has been running consistently all season, retuned to winning ways. He won at the sixth time of asking for his campaign which started at the very first meeting of the season, also at Jebel Ali, at the end of October.
Ridden by stable jockey Fernando Jara the USA-bred ran on too strongly for Roossey in the Emirates Airline Handicap (1200m) marking a third career success for the five-year-old whose his previous victories had been achieved over the minimum trip of 1000m.
Leading trainer Doug Watson and stable jockey, Pat Dobbs, may have been out of luck with Busatto in the feature but only had to wait 30 minutes to gain some compensation when Just A Penny led most of the way in the Emirates Skywards Handicap (1400m).
The four-year-old went straight to the front but was headed, just after halfway, by Lake Hawk. Soon back in front he went on to post a comfortable victory over Lake Hawk who plugged on gamely for second.
It was a second career success for Just A Penny, his previous victory registered in a 1200m Jebel Ali maiden in December.
“He is not the biggest but is compact and honest,” said Watson. “He was much more relaxed in the preliminaries today and settled better in the race.
“We will bring him back here and could try him over 1600m.”
The meeting opened with the Emirates Skycargo Maiden (1600m) and, on his 42nd career outing, the Erwan Charpy-trained Fa’Iz finally opened his career account on what was his 35th run in the UAE.
Ridden by stable jockey, David Probert, he made smooth progress to challenge the tiring Anbar, who had set a suicidal gallop from the jump, about 300 metres out.
Mountain Lion threw down the last challenge but Probert’s mount had enough left to hold on grimly.
“He has been a frustrating horse,” said Charpy. “It does not seem to matter what trip or standard of opposition he faced, he was always thereabouts.
“I said to David not to disappoint the horse if he was going well enough and he has held on determinedly close home.”
The complexion of the Emirates Holiday Handicap (1800m) altered dramatically in the concluding 300 metres when the race appeared to be between Amaan, Najm Suhail and Darkening.
However, all three were tiring having been prominent throughout and had no answer to the late challenge of the Ahmad bin Harmash-prepared Tides Rise, ridden by stable jockey Freddy Tylicki.
The four-year-old gelding hit the front about 100 metres from the judge and was eventually followed home by fast finishing stable companion Rich And Righteous.
It was a second course win for the combination of Tides Rise and Tylicki following a 1600 metres maiden success in December.
“He likes it here at Jebel Ali,” said Tylicki. “He has not been the most consistent but is still a young horse who took a while to acclimatise.
“He does appreciate a strong gallop to aim at and we had that today which has suited him.”