Debutants winning feature races are a rarity but that is exactly what happened at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon when The New Maharaja was probably never headed under Tadhg O’Shea in the 1000m conditions race for three-year-olds, the official highlight on the card. Trained by Satish Seemar, who also purchased the son of Morning Line at Ocala last April for $70,000, the striking grey colt clearly knew what was expected of him and, having taken a few strides to get balanced, was soon at the head of affairs. At halfway, he was stalked by his stable companions, Circle Dream and J Be Space, who both looked big dangers, along with Goldenground and Arroway but, passing the 300m pole, he kicked clear, burning those rivals off in a few strides. Always in control afterwards, he did perhaps tire close home with Waqqad and Meqdaam, both trained by Rashed Bouresly, staying on strongly on their first racecourse appearances.
Seemar said: “Who knows, he may live up to his name in his category! It is particularly satisfying to see a young horse like him, who we bought ourselves, win like that, especially first time. I would not normally take on previous winners with an unraced horse but we did not really have a choice and he has beaten some good horses. We will have to see how the handicapper rates him after that before making future plans but that was the perfect start.” The meeting concluded with a 1200m maiden and, for the vast majority of the race, it looked like a winning debutant double for Seemar with Lavaspin in front under Richard Mullen almost from the outset. However, he tired close home and was collared by Loures, opening his account at the fifth attempt and fourth locally. Ridden by Fernando Jara, he is trained by Maria Ritchie who said: “He deserved a win after a couple of good efforts at Meydan and the hill seemed to suit him. It was not necessarily the plan to be that far back but he can be troublesome at the gates. Fernando did not panic and has given him a great ride.”
Fresh from a Meydan double on Thursday’s opening night of the 2018 Dubai World Cup Carnival, trainer Salem bin Ghadayer was immediately in the Jebel Ali winner’s enclosure, saddling Bois De Boulogne to win the opening 1800m handicap under Xavier Ziani. Settled in midfield, Ziani asked his mount to close halfway up the long straight and the pair pounced on Au Coeur, who had led for most of the way under Richard Mullen, 300m from home. Ziani’s mount, Bois De Boulogne, who had finished second over the same course and distance at the previous meeting two weeks ago, behind stable companion Aslan, powered away to win comfortably from Au Coeur who stayed on well for second. A winner once for Godolphin and John Gosden, from three starts in England, this was his fourth outing in the UAE.
Ziani said: “He was second here last time which was his first run on the track and he clearly likes it. He is a young horse and has only run three times before for us. He is a bit of a character at home and, basically, a big baby who we think is still improving as he grows up and races more.” Royston Ffrench may have been out of luck on Aslan but wasted no time completing a double for Bin Ghadayer, driving Untold Secret to a hard fought victory in the following 1600m handicap. Like his stable companion, he too was opening his local account and doubling his career tally but, in his case after a lot more attempts; he won once from five starts in France and this was his 13th UAE attempt. Settled just behind Najm Suhail, the pair had their 14 rivals beaten off with 200m to run when it developed into a duel, Ffrench’s mount leading just inside the final 200m before repelling a renewed effort from the early leader. Ffrench said: “He ran really well behind Aslan at the very first meeting in November and again last time at Al Ain so deserved a win. There was a lot of pace in the race so I was happy to get a lead and take my time. Najm Suhail gave me a lovely tow into the race and was really hard to get past but my fellow has battled well and, as I said, deserved to get his head in front.”
A 1200m course winner on his local debut two weeks ago, Farook followed up on his first attempt at 1000m, just holding on from the fast finishing Shillong for trainer Erwan Charpy. Involved in a pace duel from the outset with Denzille Lane, who ran on gamely for third, Farook gained the overall initiative with less than 400m to run but, in the final 50m, those early exertions appeared to take their toll.
The winning post appeared just in time though with Jim Crowley, riding for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, relieved. He said: “Drawn one I did not want to lose that spot on the rail but, hassled for the lead, I was probably always going half a stride quicker than I ideally wanted. He travelled really strongly until that final part of the race when he just tired having worked hard early on.” Charpy added “He loves it here at Jebel Ali so we were happy to drop him back in trip as he has lots of natural speed. On a flatter track, he would need to go back to 1200m but here, the 1000m is good for him and, if he keeps progressing, we could look at the Jebel Ali Sprint.” Strong Chemistry ran out the fairly convincing winner of the 1400m handicap, despite forfeiting ground as the stalls opened with a tardy start. Soon in mid division under Anal Al Siyabi he made smooth progress on the rail at halfway and once a gap appeared, burst to the front.
They soon put distance between themselves and the remaining 11 runners and always looked in control from there on in. A winner once for Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, in 2014, this was a first local victory for Strong Chemistry, on his 12th UAE outing but only sixth for trainer Khalifa Al Neyadi.