Escape Route Seeks Sixth Jebel Ali Victory

Satish Seemar Charge Looking For First Win Over 1,600m

Only seven have been declared for the featured 1,600m conditions race at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon but Pick Six players will not find it easy to predict the winner in what looks a competitive contest.

The weights are headed by Escape Route, trained by Satish Seemar, and seeking his sixth course victory, eighth in the UAE and eleventh in total. He dead-heated in a similar contest over 1,400m when last seen four weeks ago but, perhaps surprisingly, has yet to win over 1,600m – although he did win over 2,000m in the UK.

Regular jockey, Richard Mullen, retains the partnership and he said: “He is a real favourite in the yard and very versatile with regards to underfoot conditions and trip. He stays 1,600m well, loves the Jebel Ali dirt and is in great form so he should run his usual big race but he carries a penalty which makes things harder.”

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum is again the main sponsor on the card, including this race, through his Shadwell breeding empire and his Haatheq looks a big danger to all. Former British Champion Jockey, Paul Hanagan is making his local debut as the owner’s retained jockey and is looking forward to the occasion.

“Haatheq`s best form is as good as anything in the race and he has two good runs under his belt already this season,” said the jockey. “We know he likes Jebel Ali and we are expecting him to go very close.”

Forjatt, trained on the course by Dhruba Selvaratnam tackles 1,600m for the first time but was staying on over 1,400m last time, while Straight Talk represents the powerful Musabah Al Muhairi/Wayne Smith combination who won the race last year with Atlantic Brave.

Straight Talk is unbeaten in his three Jebel Ali starts but takes a step up in class.

“He deserves a chance in this grade,” said Smith. “He has improved from his maiden win at Jebel Ali in March to win two handicaps nicely. This is obviously tougher but he is in great heart at home.”

The best of the handicaps is over 1,200m and the Seemar/Mullen combination are represented by Glenleven, a maiden winner over 1,000m winner at the first meeting of the season. He receives weight from his 10 rivals.

“We have always liked this horse but, for some reason, he flopped at Meydan on debut last season. He showed on the first day that he is capable and that form has worked out well,” said Mullen. “I guess we will find out how good he is.”

The Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Hajoum also won at the first meeting and renews rivalry with My Verse who chased him home on that occasion, while Tecla Shiner has his first local start having joined Rashed Bouresly. He has not been seen on a racecourse for a massive 1,490 days but when he last ran, in his native Argentina, he was a Grade 1 winner. That was over 2,500m though and he is likely to find 1,200m on the sharp side.