Monsarrat defends Jebel Ali Stakes in style

A quality meeting at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon, when they staged two of their biggest races of the season, was officially highlighted by the 1950m Listed Jebel Ali Stakes and Montsarrat secured his place in UAE racing folklore by emulating Treble Jig in becoming the second dual winner of the contest inaugurated in 1993.

Treble Jig, a true Jebel Ali legend who also landed two Jebel Ali Miles, won consecutive editions of both races in 2012 and 2013 and Montsarrat was defending his title, in style, here. A 6-year-old gelded son of Poet’s Voice, he has now won both his visits to Jebel Ali and was given an ultra-confident ride by Royston Ffrench, riding for trainer Sandeep Jadhav and owner Ahmad Ghalita Almheiri. Never headed in the race last year, when Ffrench was injured and Tadhg O’Shea was in the saddle, they stalked the early pace set by Just A Penny before easing to the front 300m out after which they never looked likely to be beaten.

Jadhav said: “We all know it is not easy to win these big races in consecutive years so we have to be very happy with that. He is a very good horse and has only run twice here at Jebel Ali which clearly suits him, but I am not sure where he runs next; Super Saturday and Al Matoum Challenge R3 could be a possibility, but we will see.”

Ffrench added: “We have ridden him a little more patiently this season because he was a horse we always thought needed to lead, but if they are going quick enough in front, we have been happy to take our time just in behind. He won the race last year, so it made my choice quite easy to ride him from three choices for the yard.”

Proceedings kicked off with one of only a handful of Purebred Arabian contests hosted at the track all season, and the 1600m rated conditions race was ultimately won comprehensively, by Brraq.

Saddled by Jean de Roualle for Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 6-year-old had never raced before finishing fourth on debut, over 1800m at Al Ain where he is trained, before winning easily on his only subsequent start, over 1600m on the Abu Dhabi turf.

De Roualle said: “That is only his third run and he is six years old because he totally lost his confidence and has needed a lot of work. We as a team have put so much work into this horse because we always knew the talent was there, but we needed to straighten him out mentally. Richie has done a great job with him as well and I think Meydan would suit him, but that could be his last run this season or perhaps one more. But this is a nice horse.”

Mullen added: “This horse has been a project and fair play to Jean and his team for getting him to the races. He is a potentially a very smart horse.”

Fifteen went to post for the 1600m maiden but very few ever managed to get involved with Compliance, second on four of his previous seven outings making a bold bid from the front under William Lee.

However, sadly for them and connections, having beaten off 13 of their rivals, they had no answer to the late challenge of Karaginsky who stormed up the hill, on just his third career start, under Tadhg O’Shea for Satish Seemar and Nasir Askar. Unsighted on debut for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby in April last year, the 4-year-old Dubawi gelding was third, albeit well beaten, on his local debut and only run since over 1400m at Meydan two weeks ago.

“He is a young, progressive horse who is maturing and did well to win from a bad draw,” Seemar said. “Hopefully, looking forward, he is a nice horse for the future because he should definitely improve from that run.”

O’Shea, riding his 499th UAE winner, said: “It was only entering the straight, to be honest, I thought I had any chance because he was running like a big baby. That can only be a positive with regards to the future because he should improve a lot for that.

The following 1600m was almost a carbon copy with Almushref, on his second outing for Musabbeh Al Mheiri, looking the likely winner for His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum under Jim Crowley, only to be snared close home by Aridity. Ridden by Bernardo Pineheiro for Rashed Bouresly, the 6-year-old Teofilo gelding was doubling both his and the jockey’s Jebel Ali account, the pair having combined to win a course handicap over 1800m last March.

Bouresly said: “He is not the easiest to train because he is a very nervous horse who needs looking after at home.”

Pinheiro added: “Stamina was not an issue because I won on him over further last year and have now ridden him five times for two wins, a third, a fourth and an unplaced effort.”

Out of luck on that occasion, Al Mheiri, who trained the aforementioned Treble Jig, did land the 1950m handicap with Gavroche powering clear in the closing stages to win easily under Elione Chaves, riding his first ever Jebel Ali winner.

The jockey said: “This is a horse I know well because I ride him a lot at home in the mornings. He is strong and just wants to try his best, so the way the race panned out, they went very quick early on, has really suited him. We probably won too easily in the end, but it is my first winner here, so I wanted to make sure!”

Al Mheiri waited just 30 minutes to complete a double, Thammin thundering clear of six rivals to win the 1000m Jebel Ali Sprint in impressive style, ridden by Jim Crowley for his main employer, Sheikh Hamdan. A 5-year-old Dark Angel grey gelding, inheriting the colour from his father, was having just his second UAE start, after an excellent third over 1200m on the Meydan turf, and making his dirt debut. The surface clearly suited and, less than 24 hours after partnering Ekhtiyaar to an impressive Dubai World Cup Carnival victory over 1200m on the Meydan turf, Crowley was obviously delighted.

“The last time at Meydan over 1200m he perhaps did not finish his race off, Crowley said. “But he showed so much speed I thought dropping to 1000m would suit him and that has proved the case today. He looks an exciting sprinter be it for the this season or if we wait for the next campaign.”

The trainer wasted no time making it a treble with stable jockey, Ben Curtis, the man in the saddle aboard Chess Master who was the cosy winner of the finale, a 1200m handicap.