French Delight For Jebel Ali Feature

Serif lands Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile

Photo: Erika Rasmussen

EWAN CHARPY, one of Dubai’s longest serving trainers, was celebrating a third success in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile (1600m) after Sefri ran out a game winner of the venue’s seasonal highlight on Friday.

The Frenchman’s tenure in the UAE stretches back to the 1994/1995 season when he debuted to finish a first-up fourth on the trainers’ winning list.

His Meydan-based Green Stables had won the race previously with Pacino in 2002 and again in 2009 with Golden Arrow.

Sefri is raced by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whom Charpy also combined with for black type success last year when Manark won the Group One Dubai Kahayla Classic, the Purebred Arabian race which traditionally leads off each Dubai World Cup day.

Winning rider Paul Hanagan sent the six-year-old, who had ran fourth behind race favourite Forjat in the prep race two weeks ago, for home with 500 metres left to run in the Derrinstown Stud-sponsored feature.

The US-bred gelding showed commendable tenacity battling all of the way to the line and holding the late challenge of favourite Forjatt, who was attempting to win his home track feature again, following victory in 2014 and then losing the race in the Stewards’ Room after being first past the last season.

“We thought he would run well today,” explained Charpy. “If you look at his run in the prep race he received a big bump on the bend and he is not the easiest of horses to balance at the best of times so it did not help.

“He still finished fourth in that and we put the half blinkers on today to help him travel a bit better in the race. That worked and, once he gets to the front, he is a hard horse to pass.

“We will look at the Jebel Ali Stakes and perhaps try him again at Meydan but the style of dirt racing is fast and furious which did not suit him last season.”

Trainers’ Championship-pacesetter Doug Watson made the perfect start to the afternoon when former Irish racehorse Ferguson, making both his local and dirt debuts, proved far too good for eight rivals in the opening Shadwell Handicap (1400m).

The four-year-old, who has previously been under the care of Dubai World Cup Carnival stalwart and one time Watson-assistant David Marnane, lost his maiden tag when he came from off the pace in the early stages, reaching the front 300 metres out and running out a very easy winner under stable jockey Pat Dobbs.

“He is a nice new horse in the yard and we thought he had a big chance,” said Watson. “It was a weak race but he did it nicely, perhaps a bit too comfortably in the end!”

Locally-trained Lanadam was a popular elect for the Shadwell Farm Handicap (1800m) on the back of two convincing wins at Al Ain at his past two appearances.

He tried hard but could not peg back Absolute Sway who had claimed the lead with 300 metres to run, just as the serious climb up Jebel Ali’s famous finishing incline begins.

“He deserved a win,” said winning trainer Musabah Al Muhairi. “He has run well on both previous starts this season but beaten narrowly on both occasions.”

The Oasis Stables trainer was back in the Winner’s Circle, and celebrating a double with Sheikh Hamdan and Hanagan, after Dairam won a hard fought success in the Newbury Racecourse UK Handicap (1200m).

The six-year-old recorded his second win from four starts this preparation hanging on grimly in the closing stages to deny Mathematics and Hammurabi who had both loomed as winning chances late in the race.

“He really stuck his head out for me and gave his all,” said Hanagan. “He seems much better here at Jebel Ali and I guess will come back here next time as it all happens a bit quick for him at Meydan.”

Jebel Ali’s resident trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam, fresh from a Meydan Dubai World Cup Carnival double the previous evening, had been forced to look on in disappointment when Forjatt and Lanadam could only finish second.

He did “chalk up one for the home team” when Morawij brought the curtain down on the card with an all-the-way win in the Shadwell Rated Conditions (1000m).

Ridden by stable jockey Chris Hayes, the six-year-old gelding marked his second course and distance victory of the campaign following a win in handicap-company back in October on the season’s opening day.

“I have said all week he was my best chance on the card,” said Hayes who opened his Dubai World Cup Carnival account on Thursday night aboard Top Challenge.

“He has plenty of pace and I was always happy out in front. They tried to get to me but he just pulled out more. I imagine the Jebel Ali Sprint is his ultimate target.”

A Jebel Ali maiden produced another surprise result when Mr. Churchill finally got his head in front, at the 27th attempt and on his 21st UAE outing in the Marsh (1400m)

It looked improbable at halfway for the Ismail Mohammed-trained seven-year-old who responded to a patient ride from apprentice George Buckell closing late to lead close home and deny first-starter Ajwad who had led from the jump.

“It is a great effort from the trainer and his team,” said Buckell. “I was told to let him find his own rhythm and allow him to enjoy himself.

“It has worked and, now he has won, maybe he can go in again.”