Stakes Produces A Classic Stoush

Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Gallant Haatheq toughs it out to claim feature

THE LISTED JEBEL ALI STAKES (1950m), the middle pin of the big three races on the track’s calendar, produced one of the best finishes of the whole UAE season so far with a trio of the leading chances staging a titanic struggle over the concluding 200 metres.

Jebel Ali stalwarts Farrier, Sefri and Haatheq came clear of their opposition to tough it out in the Shadwell sponsored AED 500,000 contest.

As the line approached, Farrier appeared to have the measure of Sefri, who had been in front from about 700 metres out, with Haatheq throwing down his challenge on the far side of that pair.

Sefri fought back in the middle of the trio but was unable to find quite enough with Farrier and Haatheq flashing past the post in a dramatic conclusion.

The judge’s computer screen revealed that it was Haatheq who got there first, a nose in front of Farrier with Sefri just a neck behind.

It was a first win in the race for both trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and jockey, Dane O’Neill, sporting the second colours and black cap of his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also owner of Sefri.

Winner of the course and distance prep race a fortnight ago, Haatheq deserved his big race win having, in the past, been placed in this race, the Jebel Ali Mile and Godolphin Mile to name but a few.

“He is a nine-year-old now but what a star,” said O’Neill. “He just does not give up and that has gained the day for us here. I knew he would dig deep for me and he really has needed to. We passed Sefri but he then fought back and I knew Farrier was on the other side of him as he challenged the same time I did.”

“I wasn’t sure when we crossed the line who had won but, luckily, it was us.

“Full credit to Ali and his team for getting him here fit and fresh. If any horse deserved a big win it is this one and I am delighted for the boss and everyone concerned.”

The owner’s first jockey, Paul Hanagan, may have been out of luck in the feature on Sefri, on whom he dropped his whip, but gained some consolation on the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Odooj when the six-year-old gelding posted a second career success, and first in the UAE, on his 12th local outing in the Commercial Bank Of Dubai Handicap (1200m).

Under pressure at halfway, behind the fast gallop set by Mathematics, he responded well, leading 300 metres from home and running on strongly.

“We thought a lot of this horse when he was in England,” said Hanagan. “He is only small and has taken a while to get his act together here in the UAE. The fast gallop really helped him and hopefully he can build on this.”

Dhruba Selvaratnam, who trains on the Jebel Ali course, with a strong team of sprinters at his disposal this season saddled both first and second in the Shadwell Farm sponsored Jebel Ali Sprint Prep (1000m) though it was second-string United Color ridden by Wayne Smith who landed the spoils, denying stable jockey Chris Hayes aboard Morawij.

Hayes tried to make all but his mount had no answer to United Color’s challenge, providing owner and racecourse patron HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, with a notable one-two.

“I thought United Color would need the run,” said Selvaratnam. “Morawij was giving him weight so both have done very well in a decent little race.”

Earlier, in form jockey Pat Dobbs was seen at his very calmest aboard the Doug Watson-trained Padlock in the Al Shafar Investment Handicap (1600m).

Well away, they soon led and were able to set a moderate tempo until halfway up the straight when Royston Ffrench riding Ormindo clearly decided an injection of pace was required.

They set sail for home while Dobbs, sitting motionless was clearly content to let them do so until about 300 metres from the line when he shook the reins at Padlock regaining the initiative and the race was over.

“We knew the trip would suit him but we were a bit worried how he would handle the bend,” said Watson. “He is a big horse and will be a really nice type for next season. We will look for one more race this year but I do not think there is much for him.”

It was a second career win for the four-year-old and first in the UAE at his seventh attempt.

The victory of the Ahmad bin Harmash-trained Fitzgerald ridden by Freddy Tylicki in the Arabian Scandinavian Insurance Co Handicap (1400m) was doubly sweet for his connections; not only did he win the AED48,000 first prize but also a bonus of AED15,000 as a graduate of December`s ‘Racing in Dubai’ Sale.

Having only his second UAE outing, he was doubling his career win tally having won once in the United States of America for Godolphin.

The meeting opened with the only Purebred Arabian race on the card, the HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum Emirates Breeders Society Challenge Sponsored By Serve U (1800m).

Run with Prestige status it went to Sahm W’Rsan ridden by apprentice jockey Hector Crouch

It was a welcome and belated first winner of the season for trainer Bakhit Al Ketbi and a second career success for the horse, scoring on dirt for the first time.

“It was hard work at the end,” said Crouch. “He was getting tired but responded well and the line appeared just in time.”