Home Team Land Double Jebel Ali Season Launch

Morawij wins the feature (photo: Erika Rasmussen

Selvaratnam and New Jockey Hayes Claim Feature

Racing returned to the UAE at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon and the featured 1000m handicap provided a popular result with Morawij, trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam for racecourse patron HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, opening his local account at the sixth attempt.

In doing so, he supplied Selvaratnam’s new stable jockey, Chris Hayes, with his first UAE winner on only his third ride. It was a fourth career win for the horse who showed smart form in the UK and travelled strongly under Hayes before quickening clear 200m out and running on strongly.

“He has done that well,” said Selvaratnam. “He will certainly have needed the run and will improve a lot for it fitness wise. The plan was to sit off the pace as we knew they would go fast and Chris gave him a great ride,

‘The Jebel Ali Sprint will be the main aim at the end of the season.”

The same combination teamed up to land the concluding 1400m handicap with Hayes and Lanadam bounding clear of toiling rivals. It was actually a first career win for the horse who had managed a solitary third on his previous eight outings.

“I bought him three years ago,” said Selvaratnam. “This has been a while coming but he looked really well before the race and was quite impressive. We will try and find a similar race for him back here.”

Earlier, there was a distinct air of déjà vu with Mizbah winning the opening 1950m handicap, just as he had done 12 months ago.

Runner-up on both occasions was Street Act who actually landed the identical contest in 2013.

Trained by Doug Watson, Mizbah was rushed to the front by Champion Jockey, Richard Mullen, and the pair never saw another rival, eventually storming clear for an easy victory.

“We knew he was in good shape and we saw last year he goes particularly well fresh,” said Watson. “The plan was always to be positive and it is obviously the perfect way to begin the season.”

Watson also saddled two seconds, ridden by Pat Dobbs but the duo were not to denied a victory and the very promising Okimono made it two wins from two Jebel Ali visits when landing the 1200m handicap. Having only raced once in England, he has now won two of his three career outings after a 1400m course maiden victory last season and was arguably outpaced early on.

Dobbs did not panic however and the pair eased closer before hitting the front in the final 100m to win going away.

“He is a nice young horse but ideally needs further,” said Watson. “We hoped he would have enough natural ability to get away with the trip and he has.

“Hopefully he has more to offer.”

Former Champion Jockey, Tadhg O’Shea, has a new job this season with trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe and the pair cemented the partnership in style with Mutahaddith routing the opposition in the same 1000m maiden in which he was second last year.

He could have been called the winner at halfway and O’Shea was visibly delighted with the victory.

“The first winner in a new job is always important,” he said. “To get one on the board at the first meeting is ideal and he did that well in what was probably a poor race.”

There was a thrilling finish to the 1600m handicap in which Hacienda looked likely to complete a rapid double for Watson after the success of Mizbah, only to be denied right on the line by Amaan, trained by Erwan Charpy.

Hacienda swept past the eventual winner about 300m from home, only to relinquish the advantage where it mattered at the post. Watson’s Ostaad was a neck away in third with Absolute Sway the same distance behind in fourth.

“That was a gutsy effort,” said Smith. “It looked like we were in trouble but he has really stuck his head out and fought back.”