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Former Victors Stake A Claim

Rich Jebel Ali prize on offer

THE LISTED JEBEL ALI STAKES worth AED 500,000 is the highlight of Friday afternoon’s ninth meeting of the season at Jebel Ali with a field of 11 declared for the 1950 metres feature, including last year’s winner Jutland and Interpret successful in the 2014 renewal.

Seeking a sixth course victory and fourth over the 1950m trip, Jutland can also boast a victory in the 2013 Group 3 Abu Dhabi Championship (2200m) and has been a great servant to his trainer, Doug Watson, since starting his UAE career early in 2012.

Watson, who also saddled Dubai Honor to win this race in 2003, is enjoying a fantastic season and there must be every chance Jutland, to be ridden by stable jockey Pat Dobbs, will run a big race under his optimum conditions.

“He goes particularly well at Jebel Ali and stays the trip well,” said Watson. “He has been working nicely and will hopefully be thereabouts in what appears an open renewal.”

Watson’s charge was fourth in 2014 when the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Interpret landed the spoils, giving his trainer a third consecutive victory in a race he won with Treble Jig in both 2012 and 2013.

Interpret has two other Jebel Ali victories to his name, most recently at the track’s final meeting of last season in March. However, he was not seen again until this year’s Jebel Ali Mile (1600m) , in which he was a close fourth to Sefri but was then a well beaten sixth in the Jebel Ali Stakes Prep, a fortnight ago, behind Haatheq.

Leading owner HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who sponsors the race with his Shadwell operation, is represented by three of the runners.

His first jockey, Paul Hanagan, stays loyal to the Erwan Charpy-trained Sefri who has been penalised for his convincing Mile victory. The six-year-old who beat Jutland over 1800 metres at the course in December shapes as though the longer trip will be within his compass and looks a big threat to all as he bids to give his French trainer a fourth win in the race.

“He impressed me when winning the Mile,” said Hanagan. “These choices are never easy but he should have a big chance, despite his penalty.”

That leaves the owner’s second retained jockey, Dane O’Neill, to ride Haatheq, trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe, the nine-year-old veteran who along with winning the prep two weeks ago remains a remarkably consistent performer for the yard since arriving in 2010.

A winner in the UAE on eight occasions, six at Jebel Ali, he has been placed in a plethora of big races, both on this course and at Meydan, including finishing second in the 2011 Jebel Ali Stakes.

That 2011 version was won by Emmrooz, trained on the Jebel Ali track by Dhruba Selvaratnam, who relies on Bluff this year. The US import was having only his second run since joining Selvaratnam when a closing second in the course and distance prep a fortnight ago behind Haatheq.

Stable jockey Chris Hayes will bidding to present his boss with a fourth winner in the race.

“We are expecting him to at least get closer to Haatheq this time and I am really looking forward to locking horns with him again,” Hayes said.

However Bluff fares, the ‘Jebel Ali team’ look to hold a serious chance with Morawij in the main support race, the Jebel Ali Sprint Prep (1000m). Sheikh Hamdan’s Shaishee, trained by Al Muhairi, looks the main danger.