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Small Field No Less A Puzzle For Jebel Ali Feature

Watson team again major players

The Doug Watson-trained Shamaal Nibras faces just four opponents in the featured 1400m handicap at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon as he bids to win the contest for a second year in succession.

Watson’s team, headquartered at Dubai’s Metropolitan Track, is in flying form having supplied six winners last weekend so confidence must be high that he can win this again on what will be his second start of the campaign.

The Emirates Entertainment Racing Club–owned six- year-old looked in need of the run when third on his one previous start this season four weeks ago and does seem to reserve his best efforts for Jebel Ali where he was awarded second in last season’s Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile (finished third but Forjatt, first past the post, was subsequently disqualified).

“We are very happy with him,” said Watson. “He probably needed his first run a bit more than we thought and he has been going very nicely at home.
“He won this race last year and it would be nice to think he can repeat that victory this time.”

The race is sponsored by Derrinstown Stud, the Irish arm of the breeding empire of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose own famous blue and white silks will be carried by Mashaaref.

Trained by Meydan-based Musabah Al Muhairi Mashaaref won the course and distance contest in which Shamaal Nibras was third last month.

Like Watson’s charge he will be making his second appearance of the campaign. The owner’s first jockey Paul Hanagan, making his return to local action after the European campaign, takes the ride.

There may only be five runners but it looks ultra-competitive all the same and Al Muhairi also saddles Art Wave, winner over track and trip two weeks ago.

Art Wave remains partnered with stable jockey Fernando Jara and they again clash with runner-up that day, Not A Given.

“He is not the most straightforward,” said Jara. “I was warned to be careful once I took him to the front last time but in fairness the horse buckled down and won nicely.
“It is a small field but it looks a good race and I think Art Wave, getting weight from the rest, is my best chance on the day.”

Fellow Meydan trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe saddles Not A Given, the mount of the handler’s number one rider Tadhg O’Shea and the only member of the quintet not to have won over course and distance. In fact, he is yet to win at Jebel Ali.

“He ran very well the last day,” said O’Shea. “On the revised terms we should at least get closer to Art Wave but the top one, Mashaaref, looks the one we all have to beat.”

That leaves Al Razi trained at Zabeel Stables by Satish Seemar and the mount of Richard Mullen. Fourth behind Art Wave and Not A Given last time on his seasonal bow Mullen’s mount is seeking a seventh Jebel Ali victory and third over course and distance.

“He goes particularly well at Jebel Ali,” said Mullen. “It was a pleasing comeback run behind Art Wave and hopefully he has come on for it.
“For such a small field it looks a very hot race but he should run well.”

As well as winning with Shamaal Nibras 12 months ago Watson and Dobbs were also successful with Hacienda in a 1600m handicap.

They will try and repeat the dose in the equivalent race tomorrow while the Al Muhairi-trained Enery won a 1400m handicap on the coresponding card two seasons ago and will attempt to do so again.