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Clearance Tops Contenders List In Jebel Ali Feature Race

Dubai World Cup Carnival winner Top Clearance is one of seven runners in Friday’s feature race at the Jebel Ali Racecourse.

The 1800m conditions contest is the highlight of a six race card in Jebel Ali’s penultimate meeting of the season.

Top Clearance, owned by racecourse patron, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam, has just one career win, which came at Meydan in a1600m dirt handicap last January, but he has produced some solid efforts in defeat.

This will actually be his first race at Jebel Ali but the stamina-sapping hill finish should suit his style of racing.

“He works well on the surface so that should not be an issue,” said Selvaratnam. “He has perhaps been a bit disappointing but this looks a good opportunity for him and we have to be hopeful.”

The race is generously sponsored by Shadwell Farm, the American arm of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s breeding empire and his world famous blue and white colours will be carried by three of the septet.

The owner’s first jockey, Jim Crowley, elects to ride the Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-trained Munaaser who is also a winner at the 2016 Carnival last January, in his case making a successful local debut in a 2000m dirt handicap.

He has not won since but has faced some exceptionally stiff tasks in the interim, including fifth in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on Super Saturday last year at Meydan.

He made his course debut two weeks ago when seventh in the Listed Jebel Ali Stakes over 1950m when appearing not to stay, so this trip could prove his optimum ‘up the hill’.

“He ran very well for a long way last time,” said Crowley. “He is a smart performer as we know and we think he will be thereabouts.”

Maria Ritchie saddles her first runners as a licensed trainer and is responsible for both of Sheikh Hamdan’s two other runners, Nolohay and Muzdawaj, in the feature.
Second jockey, Dane O’Neill, has opted for the latter, making his dirt debut on just his second UAE outing, with stable jockey, Fernando Jara aboard Nolohay.

Just A Penny and Diwaan both represent Doug Watson with stable jockey, Pat Dobbs choosing the former who was victorious in a 1600m handicap on this card 12 months ago.

Just A Penny had a total of four victories last season, all at Jebel Ali, but he has yet to show that level of form in his three runs during the current campaign, all three appearances have been on this course.

This will be his first outing beyond 1600m and the step up in trip might suit, whereas Diwaan, the mount of Sam Hitchcott, is a course winner over 1950m and has been second on his two most recent outings, including over this 1800m course and distance.

“Jebel Ali suits them both and they are in good form at home,” said Watson. “We have been keen to try Just A Penny over a bit further and this looks the ideal opportunity. Hopefully he can break well as he has been a bit slow starting the last couple of times.

“Diwaan we know stays well and has already been second and third over course and distance his season. Hopefully they each have a decent chance in an open looking contest.”

The field is completed by Royal Revival whose trainer, Satish Seemar, is enjoying a prolific 2017 so cannot safely be discounted.

Now a ten-year-old and the mount of Richard Mullen, he has yet to win any of his six previous dirt outings, the best of which was, arguably, a Jebel Ali third over 1600m behind stable companion, Tiz Now Tiz Then, just over three years ago.

He has not managed to land a blow in his three Meydan turf outings this season, all in 2017, and he needs to bounce back to form. The 1800m trip looks likely to suit as he won twice at the distance in France back in 2010.