Poignant Success For "Home Team" In Jebel Ali Feature Named After Former Stable Jockey Pat Smullen

Just six races at Jebel Ali on Friday afternoon, officially highlighted by the Pat Smullen Condition Stakes, a 1600m contest restricted to 4-year-olds and there could not have been a more appropriate winner with Shamikh and Ryan Curatolo scoring a poignant success in the colours of racecourse patron Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

A former stable jockey at the adjacent Jebel Ali Stables, where Shamikh is trained by Nicholas Bachalard, and a multiple champion in his native Ireland, this race in Pat Smullen’s honour and was sponsored by Jebel Ali Racecourse.

A Lea colt, Shamikh was always travelling well under Curatolo who afforded himself the luxury of looking behind for any likely late challengers before setting sail for home passing the 200m pole. There were none and they won comfortably, a third career success for the horse, all at Jebel Ali, from just four starts.

Bachalard said: “It means a lot to all of us, from Sheikh Ahmed throughout the whole Jebel Ali family to win this Pat Smullen race.

“This is a really nice horse who did not seem to like Meydan, but has now won all three starts here, a track he does enjoy and we now know the 1600m also suits him.”

Curatolo added: “Pat Smullen was a great jockey and I am delighted to win this for Sheikh Ahmed and everybody involved.

“This is a very smart horse and is improving all the time. Hopefully he has a big future.”

The main support race, a similar conditions contest, but over 1400m for 3-year-olds, attracted a field of just five and it provided the perfect opportunity for Uncle Hamed to get off the mark at the fifth attempt. Representing the same connections as Thursday’s Group 3 Al Shindgaha Sprint winner, the 3-year-old Tapiture gelding had to dig deep for Pat Dobbs, sporting the silks of Abdul Mohsen Al Abdul Kareem for Doug Watson.

Victory appeared unlikely at halfway when Rare Ninja swept past No Limits to take up the running before the latter regained the initiative with about 300m remaining. Dobbs’ mount, who had tracked the early lead before dropping back, started to make good progress and always looked likely to get his head in front as he challenged No Limits in the final 100m.

Watson said: “I am really delighted for the owner who has spent a lot of money, time and effort getting horses here over many years and he deserves the success.

“We gelded him because he was a bit sore and he needed it. We will probably finish him for the season now and we think he will be a really nice horse.”

The curtain came down on proceedings after the longest race on the card, a 1950m handicap and, just as they had done at Meydan the previous evening, Watson and Dobbs combined to land the finale to complete doubles with Pharoah King landing the spoils stylishly.

A 4-year-old gelded son of American Pharoah having just his fifth start, he was doubling his career tally and is unbeaten for Watson, having made a successful local debut in a 2000m handicap at Al Ain, his first racecourse appearance in the silks of Ali A Aneizi. Dobbs always looked confident, biding his time behind Book Review before ghosting past that rival, who plugged on gamely for second, inside the final 400m and powering home up the steep final incline.

Watson said: “We liked this horse from the moment he stepped in the yard and he has done nothing wrong in his two starts for us. He is still a young horse and, hopefully, has plenty more improvement in him.”

A capacity field of 16 faced the starter in the curtain raiser, a 1400m handicap in which, as has become commonplace this year, the runners were spread right across the track. Shanaghai City was probably never headed among those racing on the nearside rail, but was denied victory in the final 200m by Tadhg O’Shea and Karaginsky.

Riding for Satish Seemar in the colours of Nasir Askar, O’Shea settled his mount in midfield before the pair made smooth progress entering the final 500m. They hit the front on the far side about 350m out and were then embroiled in a battle with Fabrice Veron’s mount Shanaghai City, the combatants separated by the width of the track. Seemar’s charge just came out on top, the 5-year-old Dubawi gelding registering his third career success, all for connections and at Jebel Ali, now twice over this 1400m having landed a similar prize in December at the trip.

O’Shea said: “He broke well today which he does not always do and he enjoyed himself as I was able to find plenty of space to race in.

“He took me there strongly and ran on well, but I was not certain approaching the line because it is never easy to tell when battling with a rival that far away. Thankfully we led when it mattered.”

The sprinters had their turn in a 1000m handicap and Rashed Bouresly, out of luck with Shanaghai City when he also saddled the third, Shanty Star, went one better with You’re My Rock, ridden by Fabrice Veron and chased home by stable companion Davy Lamp to give the Kuwaiti handler a notable 1-2 in another full field of 16.

The Bouresly duo were among those sticking to the rail nearest the grandstand and had the race to themselves approaching the final 200m when the challenge of Wufud faltered. He was denied third place by the fast finishing local debutant Royal Appointment.

A 4-year-old Rock Of Gibraltar colt, Veron’s mount was actually shedding his maiden tag at the seventh attempt and third for current connections, all at Jebel Ali. Fifth, over 1000m, on his local debut, he was then second, albeit beaten just over nine lengths, in a 1200m conditions race 63 days ago.

Veron said: “This horse was a very good second last time and has plenty of speed, but will stay further because he has really kept galloping when Wufud started to struggle alongside us.”

Lahmoom and Royston Ffrench made every post a winning one in a 1600m handicap for Salem bin Ghadayer and the Alqemmah Racing Team. Unraced outside the UAE, the 5-year-old gelded son of Exchange Rate was doubling his winning haul in the process, on career start 14, having landed a 1000m Al Ain handicap at the end of October. He saw off numerous challengers in the early part of the straight before going clear 450m out and staying on resolutely.

Ffrench said: “We tried settling him in behind from bad draws when he has run reasonably, but well drawn today, the plan was always to be positive and hope to hold on. Fair play to the horse because he has really dug deep for me.”