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Meeriss holds off rivals in Jebel Ali feature

Shadwell, the UK arm of the breeding operation of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, were the main sponsors at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon and supported both the featured 1950m and the concluding handicap over 1200m.

Dhruba Selvaratnam trains on the track and saddled Meeriss to win the feature under Kieren Fallon, despite having to concede weight to all his 12 rivals. It was a classy effort from the six-year-old who was registering his second win in the UAE having been campaigned consistently in good company.

Versatile with regards to surface, he relished this stamina trip to the delight of Selvaratnam who said: "The horse deserved a win after some good efforts in defeat. He has plenty of ability but the Carnival races are so competitive. That said, he will be back at Meydan for the Carnival before perhaps the Abu Dhabi race in March he ran well in last year."

The trainer also had good news regarding stable jockey William Buick who has been out of action since the end of December and will return at Meydan next Thursday.
The training honours went to Mubarak Bin Shafya who was responsible for two winners, including Golden Shaheen who won the last race on the card under Xavier Ziani.

Earlier Pat Cosgrave had won a 1600m (sponsored by Emirates Airline) on stable companion Mureb who was recording a second course and distance victory having lost his maiden tag a month ago. Cosgrave said: "He is a well-bred, young horse and progressing nicely. It looked a competitive race on paper but he did it well enough and hopefully there is more to come."

Racing opened with the sole Purebred Arabian race on the card, a 1600m conditions event and the Gill Duffield-trained MH Al Wadi was another to record consecutive victories on the course but, unlike Mureb, he was stepping up after winning over 1400m.

Apprentice Harry Bentley was again in the saddle and said: "He has only had seven starts and won three now. He is tough and battles so hard up this hill. Gill is a good trainer and it is nice to be given these chances."

Amazon River won the 1950m maiden for Rashed Bouresly under Robbie Burke who said: "It is great to open my account for the season after only a handful of rides. It seemed a decent maiden and he really knuckled down in the closing stages. He should improve."

Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and stable jockey Royston Ffrench combined to win the 1400mm handicap with Game Stalker who denied Glorious Gift in a thrilling finish.

The pair pulled well clear of the rest and Ffrench said: "It was not the best race on the card but the front two have run good races and I was amazed how far clear we were. This horse stays further and it is probably his stamina that has proved decisive up that hill."