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Muarrab Claims Jebel Ali Sprint Glory

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

Course Specialist Gives Al Muhairi Fourth Winner in Race

Friday afternoon’s penultimate meeting of the Jebel Ali season was highlighted by the track’s third and final Stakes race of the season, the 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint and, as expected it was won in style by Muarrab.

Having his eighth start on the course since arriving in the UAE, the HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned six-year-old has only been beaten once on his favourite track.

That was on his first visit in February 2013 and his only try at 1400m up the famous Jebel Ali hill.

He has since won four times at 1200m and now a further three over this 1000m course and distance.

Trained by Musabah Al Muhairi, who was saddling the winner in this contest for a fourth time and third in the last four years, his jockey, Paul Hanagan, was content to follow Morafij until halfway before setting sail for home.

He soon saw off that rival and it was left to Spin Cycle, winner of the same race in 2011, to throw down the last challenge, appearing to get level briefly before Muarab engaged the turbo to draw clear at the line.

“He just loves it here,” said Hanagan. “He even pricked his ears halfway up the hill – he knows where he is and really enjoys both the surface and the stiff uphill finish.

“He seems to be getting quicker as he gets older and I never had a moments worry today.

“We will have to sit down and talk about Dubai World Cup night now, whether to go there and, if we do, which race – the Golden Shaheen (Group 1 1200m dirt) or Al Quoz Sprint (Group 1 100m turf.”

State City, in 2003, won this Jebel Ali Sprint before going to Nad Al Sheba to land the Golden Shaheen for Paddy Rudkin.

The trainer wasted little time completing a course and distance double, this time with stable jockey, Silvestre De Sousa, aboard Conform With Fact who landed a conditions race over the same 1000m trip as Muarrab’s big race victory.

Al Muhairi finished the day with three winners after Kanaf scored in the only handicap on the card, the concluding event over 1400m, completing doubles for Sheikh Hamdan and Hanagain in the process and denying stable companion Art Wave close home.

There can be few braver horses in training than Jutland and he needed every last ounce of his resolution to prevail in the 1800m conditions race, denying old rival Interpret (who won last year’s Jebel Ali Stakes) in a driving finish.

Pat Dobbs set out to make all on the Doug Watson-trained Jutland, winner of this year’s 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes but the pair were headed 300m from home by Sefri who looked the likely winner.

However, Jutland fought back and, with Sefri’s stamina ebbing in the final 200m, it was left to Interpret, on whom Silvestre De Sousa was hard at work for about half the race, to make the final challenge.

De Sousa’s endeavour looked likely to be rewarded, only for Jutland to dig even deeper and fend him off.

“He has been a great horse to have in the yard and really goes well here at Jebel Ali,” said Watson. “He is so brave and does not like to be headed. Pat gets on well with him and has given him another great ride.”

Racing opened with a 1600m conditions contest and apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei, riding for his main employer, Ali Rashid Al Raihe, made virtually every yard of the running on Lanark who was opening his UAE account at the fifth attempt and his first visit to Jebel Ali.

Darwn wide, Al Mazrooei did well to get across and soon nabbed the rail and the pair were a couple of lengths clear entering the straight. They committed for home halfway up the hill and powered clear of his 15 rivals.

“I wanted to be positive on him and he enjoyed himself bowling along in front,” said Al Mazrooei. “He has really run on strongly up the hill and it was a good win.”

The apprentice completed a double, riding Copperbelt to win the 1200m maiden for Abdulla bin Huzaim with the horse opening his account at the fourth attempt, on his local and dirt debut.