Home team hopeful at opening racemeeting at Jebel Ali

After Sunday`s opening fixture of the season in Abu Dhabi, racing kicks off at Jebel Ali Racecourse, which will be celebrating their 20th anniversary early next year.

The six race card sees Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum`s Shadwell breeding empire, generously sponsors the featured 1000m sprint which has attracted the largest field of the afternoon with 11 declared.

It looks wide open with an interesting mix of newcomers to the UAE and several old local favourites including My Verse who won the race last year for racecourse patron His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and is trained by Dhruba Selvaratnam who said: "She does go well fresh and is working well but I think mine will all improve from their first run so I would be hopeful rather than confident."

The Doug Watson-trained Classic Blade heads the weights and showed he handles the surface last year but is yet to win over this minimum trip.

Watson`s charge shares the top-weight burden with Pirate`s Song, one of three in the race trained by Champion Trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei takes off an invaluable 4.5kgs.

Having secured a double at the penultimate Jebel Ali meeting last season and opening his account for the new campaign at Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Al Mazrooei is looking forward to the season.

He said: "That was a good start on Sunday and hopefully the team can have another good season. I was in South Africa in the summer and I learned a lot. That was a great experience and hopefully my riding has improved."

Stable jockey Royston Ffrench partners Expire, a newcomer to the UAE with Tadhg O`Shea on the stables third runner, Mujaazef, owned by his main employer, the sponsor His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Erwan Charpy saddles two, with course and distance winner Satwa Street who is joined by local debutante She Wants. Charpy sounds optimistic and said: "We know Satwa Street goes well at Jebel Ali and he should run a good race. We really like She Wants and she shows a lot of speed at home and has won over 800m on dirt in her native Brazil. We are looking forward to getting her on the track."

With the Abdullah bin Huzaim-trained Planetary Motion also in the field the race is almost certain to be run at a furious gallop which should help Satish Seemar`s Captain Rio whose best course form last year was over 1200m.

Only 50 runners have been declared throughout the six races but Pick Six players will not find it easy with one maiden and five tricky handicaps. Al Raihe, Watson and Selvaratnam have runners in all six races and it would be no surprise to see the trio dominate proceedings.