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Course Specialist Kanaf Seeks Sixth Jebel Ali Win

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Sheikh Hamdan`s Runner Back at 1400m in Friday Highlight

Kanaf is one of seven declared for the Derrinstown Stud feature race at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday, the track’s second meeting of the new season.

Kanaf’s owner, HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is enjoying something of a purple patch after being crowned UK Champion Owner for the fifth time last weekend, as well as being honoured at the prestigious Cartier Awards on Tuesday evening.

“It has been a great summer in Europe for His Highness,” said Mirza Al Sayegh, director of the office of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “It was particularly satisfying to win the Oaks and King George with Taghrooda who he bred as well.

“We also had some nice juveniles so have plenty to look forward to next year.”

“Hopefully the run of success can continue throughout the UAE season and we remain committed to supporting Jebel Ali which is such a friendly, family-orientated course.”

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, Kanaf is ridden by the owner’s retained jockey, Dane O’Neill. The bay gelding won over course and distance last season and, with a 1200m Jebel Ali victory to his credit the previous season, he is seeking a sixth course success.

“The horse goes particularly well at Jebel Ali,” said O’Neill. “He ran over 1000m two weeks ago and will be happier back over 1400m and will have benefitted from that run.

“We are expecting a good run.”

He is penalised for his win in a similar race in January, as is the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained, Encipher who tops the weights. Another who enjoys Jebel Ali, Encipher was a course and distance winner on this card last year when trained by Ismail Mohammed. His penalty was incurred for a victory at Muscat in April.

Stable jockey, Royston Ffrench rides and said: “Obviously the penalty makes life more difficult but conditions suit and he has been working well.”

Lurking at the bottom of the weights is Yaa Wayl, the mount of Oisin Murphy and trained on the course by Dhruba Selvaratnam for his main patron and racecourse owner, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

He is also a course and distance winner, beating Kanaf last December before finishing behind the same rival four weeks later.

The preceding race is a cracking 1200m handicap featuring the seasonal return of the Selvaratnam-trained Sholaan, twice winner at Jebel Ali last season and good enough to contest the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.

Beaten under four lengths on that occasion, he is undoubtedly the class act in the race but, as a result, does have to concede 6kgs or more to his six rivals. However, he looks the one they all have to beat and must have a great chance of supplying UK Champion Apprentice Jockey, Murphy with his first UAE winner.

“He is ready for a run,” said Selvaratnam. “Obviously he acts on the track but he does have to give a lot of weight away first time out.”

The only other course winner in the field is the Satish Seemar-trained Spin Cycle but he remains winless since landing the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint in March 2011. Stable jockey Richard Mullen will be hoping he can rectify that.

There are two 1400m handicaps on the card and Firstknight defends his crown from 12 months ago in the second with Pat Dobbs riding for Doug Watson, while Kessraa was a course and distance winner on this card in 2011 and 2012 for Selvaratnam and contests the other one.