French Connection To Sponsor`s Success

Sefri wins the feature
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Mullen`s two could have been three

It was smiles all around for the sponsors when Sefri won the Jebel Ali Stakes Prep (1800m) the feature event at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday afternoon.
Raced by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum who sponsored the race through his Shadwell breeding empire the Erwan Charpy-trained former French racehorse caused a mild surprise recording his first victory in the UAE.

Ridden by the owner`s retained jockey, Paul Hanigan, the five-year-old gelding took his career total of wins to four adding to three in France, on his first three career starts, in 2013.

“He has been running well,” said Charpy, who had saddled Sheikh Hamdan`s Manark also ridden by Hanagan, to win the Group 2 Mazarat Al Ruwayah for Purebred Arabians at Meydan the previous evening.

“We have just taken a while to really get to know his best trip and the tactics to adopt. It appears he has not always found a lot off the bridle but he has won well today.
“This win gives us plenty of options, obviously here at Jebel Ali but, of course, at Meydan and the Carnival, be it on dirt or the turf. He is a nice horse and one to look forward to.”

Trainer Doug Watson`s Red Stables` team has been in flying form of late but went winless at Meydan on Thursday and then fired blanks in the first three races at Jebel Ali until Busatto ended that short run of misfortune with an ultra smooth victory in the fourth, a handicap over 1800m.

Taken straight into the lead by rider Pat Dobbs, he clearly had most of the opposition in serious trouble halfway up the straight and powered on to win decisively. Disappointing on the Abu Dhabi turf on his UAE debut he was a Jebel Ali winner over 1950m on his dirt bow three weeks ago.

“He obviously loves it here and this surface,” said Watson. “After his Abu Dhabi run we have just tinkered with his bridle and it has worked perfectly.
“This was a good performance and another drop in trip, perhaps even for the Jebel Ali Mile, is a definite option.”

As is so often the case, a brief drought is followed by a flood and Watson was celebrating a double just 30 minutes later with Banaadeer making a winning seasonal return in a 1200m handicap.

Having only his third UAE start, Banadeer made virtually all and in doing so also completed doubles for Sheikh Hamdan and Paul Hanagan.

“He has had a few problems at the stalls,” said Hanagan. “So fair play to Doug and his team who have, hopefully, rectified that. He did it well today and is hopefully a sprinter who can go on from this.”
The afternoon produced highs and lows for popular jockey Richard Mullen. He added a winning double to his season`s tally before injury robbed him of a third visit to the winner`s circle.

Mullen opened his account in the opening race a 1400m Purebred Arabian conditions-contest with Balad Al Reef continuing the great run of form being enjoyed by trainer Abdallah Al Hammadi and owners Al Ajban Stables.

Having celebrated an Abu Dhabi treble last Sunday, they were back in the winner’s enclosure here for a victory which looked unlikely early on.
Virtually last at halfway and under pressure racing almost alone on the Grandstand side of the course, Mullen’s mount plugged on in the final 500m to collar eventual runner-up, AF Rahia, who had tried to make all under maximum-claiming apprentice Manuel Fernandes.

“It was quite hard work,” said Mullen. “The yard are in great form and sounded fairly confident before the race but I don’t think he is a horse who will ever make life easy.
“I had to cajole him early-doors to keep in contention but at least we got to the outside, the faster part of the track. He has kept on well in the end.”

The Zabeel Stable-based rider was soon on the board again, driving Sky Jockey to a hard fought victory in the 1400m maiden. In a race where the complexion changed, dramatically and more than once, in the final 200m, Mullen’s mount only led in the closing 100m, snaring stable companion Mountain Lion who eventually finished third.

Mountain Lion, like the winner trained by Satish Seemar, had himself only just hit the front, having passed Expo Twenty who, at halfway, was clear. Just as it appeared the Seemar duo would fight out the finish, the Doug Watson-trained Tobaco flashed home, passing Mountain Lion but still a neck in arrears of the winner at the line.

“He deserved a win after two good efforts already this season,” said assistant trainer, Bhupat Seemar. “Hopefully, now he has put his head on front, he can build on this.
“The horses have been running well so it is nice to get a few winners on the board.”

The Seemar team enjoyed a Meydan double on Thursday and were to do so again although, sadly, Mullen was to miss out on Hammurabi, victorious in the concluding 1200m handicap.

A hamstring injury suffered in the feature race forced a change of jockey with David Probert the beneficiary of a winning mount.