Home Track Scores Six In Feature Sprint

Morawij and Wayne Smith clear at finish
Photo: Erika Rasmussen

Morawij makes a case for a place at world’s richest meeting

Jebel Ali staged their penultimate meeting of the season on Friday afternoon and Dhruba Selvaratnam, who trains on the track for racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, landed the final feature race of the course’s season with Morawij making virtually all under Wayne Smith in the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint.

Sporting the distinguishing black cap the six-year-old gelding produced a sixth win in the 1000 metres race for both Sheikh Ahmed and the trainer, while Smith was adding to consecutive victories in the dash achieved aboard Russian Rock in 2012 and 2013.

Spin Cycle, winner of the race back in 2011 for Satish Seemar, was second with United Color, a stable companion of the winner and the choice of stable jockey, Chris Hayes, in third.

Frustratingly for Hayes, he was beaten into second on Morawij, by Smith and United Color, in the course and distance prep two weeks ago.

It continued a great weekend for Selvaratnam and Sheikh Ahmed after the victory of their Dormello and Hayes in the 2000 metres turf handicap at Meydan on Thursday evening.

“You always know you have a good chance on one of Dhruba’s, especially here at Jebel Ali,” said Smith. “It must have been a real tough choice for Chris and I was more than happy to ride whichever one he did not.
“We broke well and were able to get in a lovely rhythm. At halfway I thought I had plenty of them in trouble and he has run on really well, all the way to the line.”

Selvaratnam added: “We thought we had two good chances and they have both run really well. It is a great result for Sheikh Ahmed and the whole team and, hopefully, we will get an invitation for Dubai World Cup night
“The way he won today he deserves a crack at the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen.”

The owner and trainer’s weekend could get even better on Super Saturday at Meydan where their UAE 2000 Guineas winner, Market Rally, will surely be hard to beat in the Al Bastakiya en route to the UAE Derby. With Hayes suspended, Pat Smullen, a former Jebel Ali stable jockey, takes the ride.

Elsewhere on the card, Doug Watson and Musabah Al Muhairi shared the training honours with a double apiece and Watson’s brace could not have been achieved in much more contrasting manner.

First up was Just A Penny who was soon at the head of affairs in a 1600 metres handicap under Pat Dobbs who, basically, was able to sit motionless throughout the race. Despite never seemingly exerting much effort, the pair crossed the line six lengths clear of Enery who fared best of the remaining 10 runners.

“He has certainly coped with the step up in trip,” said Watson. “He is only four and has improved throughout the season. He won well over 1400m last time and scored in style again.
“He has taken well to the Jebel Ali surface and may have more to offer as he is clearly versatile regarding trip.”

The meeting concluded with an 1800 metres conditions race and this time it was Sam Hitchcott in the saddle on Watson’s Mizbah who led his seven rivals at a modest looking gallop until the 600 metres pole.

He was then passed, by Hayes on Bluff, with Tiz Now Tiz Then seemingly demoting Mizbah to third and Need To Know looming large to throw down a challenge.

However, as the quartet hit the 200 metres marker, Tiz Now Tiz Then, who was keen early on, weakened, while Hitchcott was summoning another effort from Mizbah. Need To Know was still on the scene and they challenged Bluff.

Any of the three could have won in the final 100 metres with Mizbah, dwarfed by Need To Know, putting his head back in front to deny Bluff by a neck with Need To Know a head behind the runner-up.

“We were not well in at the weights but we were actually pretty hopeful,” said Justin Byrne on behalf of winning owners, EERC (Emirates Entertainment Racing Club). “He is at his best, and happiest when allowed to bowl along in front which we thought he would be able to as there was little other early speed in the race.
“It is his third win of the season but he has never been headed in the other two. He really fought back tenaciously today and showed great resolution.
“Sam has given him a great ride in fairness and we are delighted with this success, our 12th in the UAE this season.”

Another winner to lead all the way was the Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Festival City, never headed under Fernando Jara in a 1000 metres handicap.

“He has plenty of natural speed,” said Jara. “We were soon able to get to the front and he quickened again up the hill. He was tiring a bit close home but we always had enough left to hold on.”

Similar tactics were later employed by Paul Hanagan, riding for his boss, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on stable companion Sahaafy in a 1400 metres handicap

“We were very hopeful,” said Al Muhairi. “His only previous start for us was in a hot Carnival turf handicap and he ran well.
“We thought the dirt would suit him as he works well on it at home and he will hopefully be a nice horse for next season with options on both surfaces.”

The opening 1200 metres maiden provided Mountain Lion with a winning opportunity, opening his account at the 16th attempt and 13th since joining Satish Seemar in the United Arab Emirates. Stable jockey, Richard Mullen, was in the saddle.

“We have had to be patient with his horse who has gone close plenty of times,” said Seemar. “Finally we have found the right race and everything worked out perfectly for him today.
“Now he has won one, hopefully he can do so again.”