Just A Penny Makes Perfect Sense in Friday Jebel Ali Feature

Photo: Just A Penny - Patrick Dobbs
Cedric Lane (

Racing at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon was highlighted by a 1600m handicap which, on paper, looked competitive but from little after halfway involved only one horse, Just A Penny, five times a course winner previously, all his career victories. Sent straight to the front by Pat Dobbs, sporting the colours of Mohd Khalifa Al Basti, Just A Penny always looked happy, bowling along in a steady rhythm and, before the ten runners had even turned for home, it was clear most of his nine rivals were in big trouble.

Asked to lengthen by Dobbs, he shot clear with about 500m remaining and, from that moment, never looked likely to be caught. Flashy Snapper and Reach High, who both raced fairly prominently, gave vain chase, finishing a distant second and third in that order.

“He is a lot better horse when able to get to that rail and out in the lead because he does not like horses on his inside,” trainer Doug Watson said. “He seems to come good about this time of year and won on this card two years ago. He has won over 1200m, 1400m, 1600m and 1800m here at Jebel Ali where, when things go his way, he is a good horse. He has probably won a bit too easily today so we will just have to wait and see what the handicapper does before making firm plans.”

Thirteen contested the opening 1950m handicap but very few were able to get competitive with Piepowder Court and Pat Cosgrave soon at the head of affairs. Entering the long Jebel Ali straight, they were headed by Darkening and Adrie de Vries, but in behind Dobbs was travelling ominously well on Hawker. In a virtual carbon copy of their December course and distance victory, they eased to the front 300m out and ran on strongly to the line. Piepowder Court, on his first start for more than a year, battled on dourly to claim second.

Watson, again the winning trainer, said: “He is a fun horse to have around the place and a very sound one we can run a lot. To get two wins out of him this season is great and, maybe, we can find another good opportunity for him. He has run well at Sharjah, at Meydan and on the turf in China and is very versatile so we should have a few options.”

Piepowder Court is trained by Satish Seemar, as is Au Coeur who looked likely to provide his handler with quick compensation when hitting the front 400m from the line in the following 1800m handicap. Sent for home by stable jockey, Richard Mullen, he looked to have his race won, only for Fernando Jara to conjure a late challenge from Gavroche who, when Mullen’s mount hit the front, probably only had two of his ten rivals behind him. However, he finished with a flourish, snaring Au Coeur in the final 50m, the pair repeating their course and distance victory of last March for trainer Maria Ritchie.

Jara said: “He has been kept busy and is a tough, honest, horse who tries hard and he needed to today. That was hard work out there but he really battled for me when I needed him to.”

Mullen and Seemar enjoyed a change of luck in the 1600m maiden, combining with Jabir, who was opening his account at the fourth attempt, while supplying his owner, Ali Haddad, with a first Thoroughbred winner. Never far off the pace, set by Silvestre de Sousa aboard Qadiriyyah, Mullen sent his mount to the front about 400m out and they soon had the race won.

“The owner told me before the race he wanted a Thoroughbred winner so, happily, we have obliged,” Mullen said. “It is great for Ali Haddad who is a massive supporter of our yard and UAE racing in general. When we saw the declarations this looked a weak race today so we were pretty hopeful and he did not let us down. We will have to try and find another good opportunity for him and, now he has won, hopefully there is more to come from him.”

Jockey and trainer immediately completed a double, courtesy of Galesburg, who was far too good for his 12 rivals in a 1400m handicap. It was also a second winner on the afternoon for Al Bait Mutawahed Team, also owners of Gavroche.

Victorious on his previous start, over 1600m on the Abu Dhabi turf, Galesburg appeared outpaced throughout the first half of the race before, suddenly, making ground and hitting the front on the far side. In the centre, Thaaqib had tried to make all but was passed with about 400m left by Strong Chemistry, racing on the nearside.

It looked close for a while but, as the race unfolded, it became clear Galesburg was well on top and he, ultimately, won easily.

“He is a very versatile horse and Richard knows him very well, as he does all our horses,” Seemar said. “He was probably a bit slowly away today but Richard has given him time to find his stride, eased him into contentions and then settled the race quickly. That is two consecutive wins for the horse so he has had a good season and the 1400m here, up the Jebel Ali hill, is like 1600m elsewhere.”

A similar story then emerged in the finale, a 1200m handicap, with the 16 runners spread all over the track. On this occasion, it transpired the group on the nearside held sway with Pat Cosgrave bursting clear aboard Kowaiyess, chased home by Alraased whom he has passed about 300m out. Racing in the middle, Pinter ran on for third with Perfect Sense, in fourth, faring best of those to race on the far side.

Trained by Helal Al Alawi and having just his second local start, after a fast finishing second over 1000m at Al Ain, Kowaiyess was a 1200m winner at Epsom last September. He is now a winner twice from just eight career starts.