My Catch Returns And Promising Juveniles Dash On Friday At Jebel Ali

National Day weekend features just one race meeting in the UAE, which is at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Friday afternoon. The seven-race card has attracted plenty of course regulars in competitive handicaps, but for many, the first juvenile race of the campaign up the renowned Jebel Ali hill is the most interesting race.

Twelve have been declared for the 1000m maiden, with seven unraced, including the Doug Watson-trained Apolo Kid on whom Sam Hitchcott will carry the silks of H and B. The owners boast a 50% strike rate this season (and 4-for-11 lifetime) after the victories of Barack Beach and Al Modayar, both also 2-year-olds. A son of Lemon Drop Kid purchased at Ocala in June, he is a half-brother to Aqabah, a winner and Listed-placed, out of Fast Tip, five times a winner herself including in Stakes company and a Najran full-sister to Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby winner Muny. However, Pat Dobbs elects to ride stable companion Welcome Surprise, the most experienced runner in the race after four outings for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor, the best of which was a close third over 1200m on the all-weather at Wolverhampton. He is a graduate of the September 2019 Racing In Dubai Sale.

“Both mine are in good form at home,” Watson said. “Welcome Surprise obviously has that racing experience under his belt, which should hold him in good stead hopefully. Apolo Kid is ready for a race and we need to get him going to find out where we stand with him, but hopefully he is a nice horse.”

Owned by racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Raakezz makes his debut for Jebel Ali Stables trainer Nicholas Bachalard with champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea in the saddle. A son of Street Boss, he was purchased at the Ocala Spring Sale in April.

Bachalard said: “We are certainly looking forward to running him and he is a nice, fast, horse. I would rather have been drawn lower, but it is a straight track, so hopefully the higher draw is not too much of a negative.”

Down On Da Bayou, a Super Saver half-sister to Watson’s UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks heroine Polar River, threw her chance away on debut when losing substantial ground at the start, ultimately checking in well-behind promising filly Rio Angie. Trained by Salem bin Ghadayer for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, she again has the assistance of Royston Ffrench and should have learned plenty from that initial experience.

Helal Al Alawi saddles Bedouins Boy, under Fabrice Veron, hails from a regal Meon Valley Stud family, with his third dam being Irish Oaks heroine Colorspin. Apprentice Sean Kirrane is aboard Good Fighter, an unraced Distorted Humor full-brother to Grade 3 British Columbia Derby winner Second City, Zabeel stable jockey, Richard Mullen, rides debutante Feriyat. Mullen’s mount, another sourced at Ocala, this time in June, is a Successful Appeal half-sister to a winner and another fascinating newcomer in a race to look forward to.

The official feature is a 1200m handicap which looks ultra-competitive with the maximum field allowed of 16 set to face the starter. These include Watson’s My Catch, third in February’s 1000m Listed Jebel Ali Sprint on his only visit to this course. His three UAE victories have all been achieved in stakes company—most recently the 2018 Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint over 1200m at Meydan.

“We are very happy with him and he should run well,” said Watson, who also saddles Alfolk. “It does look a very strong race, but we are certainly hopeful. Alfolk is a new horse for us this season and one we are still learning about, so this will tell us more.”

A dual course and distance winner earlier this year, as well as twice successful here over 1400m, Pinter will be having his third start of the campaign for Erwan Charpy who has his string in great form.
Charpy said: “He has had a couple of runs already, so hopefully should be spot on for Friday in what looks a very tough race.”

Bachalard saddles both Call to War, who unfortunately parted company with O’Shea as the stalls opened on his seasonal return a month ago, and Yalawin, making a local debut having been off the track for 864 days.

“It looks a good race, but assuming he behaves in the gates, Call to War should run well,” Bachalard said. “Yalawin has been off a very long time and will certainly improve for the run, but we need to see how he fares back on the track.”