Reach High Brings Back Class Into Jebel Ali Friday Emirates Sponsored Meeting

Racing at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon is highlighted by a fascinating 1600m handicap for which ten have been declared. All eyes will be on Godolphin’s Reach High, victorious in two of his three career starts to date, but making both his local and dirt debut here. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the 4-year-old homebred son of Distorted Humor was narrowly beaten on debut before winning his second juvenile outing at Ascot, in May 2016, beating no less than subsequent dual Group 1 winner Harry Angel, the world’s top-rated sprinter of 2017. He was not seen racing again until October of last year, when he won a 1600m handicap on the all-weather at Kempton.

“He is a nice horse who has only had three starts but shown very good form, winning twice,” bin Suroor said. “He has been working very well, but this will be his first race on dirt and he needs to show he can handle it. He likes to race handily, so I guess that will be the plan. Hopefully the surface will not be a problem. We are hoping for a big run.”

Reach High and Mohd Khalifa Al Basti’s Doug Watson-trained Just a Penny, a five-time Jebel Ali winner, have to concede weight to their eight rivals. Pat Dobbs chooses to partner Just a Penny over Resonant. Sam Hitchcott partners Resonant, whose sole UAE victory was achieved over this 1600m course and distance at the very first meeting of the season in November.

“It looks a strong race, but both of mine are in good form,” Watson said. “We know conditions suit them both and hopefully they will be competitive.”

Salem bin Ghadayer, with ten winners so far, is the leading trainer at the track this season and his Ply will be running at Jebel Ali for the first time. Tadhg O’Shea takes the ride on a horse who arrived in the UAE on the back of three consecutive victories on the all-weather in England for previous trainer Roger Charlton. He has been beaten badly in two Meydan dirt outings –both very competitive Dubai World Cup Carnival handicaps– by a total of 109 lengths. If he takes to this different surface and topography, he could bounce back having seemingly been given a chance by the handicapper.

“It looks a very nice spare ride,” O’Shea said. “His form in England looks very good and he was improving throughout last year. Hopefully he takes to Jebel Ali. If he does, he should have a shout in what looks (to be) a good race.”

Jim Crowley rides Munaaser for his main employer, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and another to consider for Ali Rashid Al Rayhi. Richard Mullen and Satish Seemar are another pair to be taken seriously with Pilgrim’s Treasure, who was fourth and fifth on his two Jebel Ali outings to date and certainly appears to handle conditions.

The whole meeting is sponsored by Emirates Airline, so if the horse with that name can win the opening 1950m handicap, it would appear most appropriate. Trained by Erwan Charpy, the equine Emirates Airline has one victory to his name –on the all-weather at Chelmsford in March 2015– and had been running well until a disappointing Al Ain effort last week, He should be competitive under Antonio Fresu. Jintshi, representing the Seemar and Mullen partnership, is perhaps his greatest threat.