French fancies Jebel Ali Stakes Prep
Stable jockey Royston Ffrench has offered his boss Ali Rashid Al Raihe a massive confidence booster ahead of today's Jebel Ali Stakes Prep by describing his mount Yirga as being one of their best chances of the afternoon.
Ffrench partners the son of Cape Cross in the Derrinstown Stud-sponsored feature event, which Al Raihe won in 2010 with Haatheq and the previous year with Fathayer.
Although only eight runners face the starter in the 1,800-metre contest, it looks to be an ultra-competitive prep race with several horses holding big chances, including Al Raihe's second entry Glen Nevis, the mount of top Emirati rider Ahmad Ajtebi.
"Conditions suit them both but Yirga's comeback was very pleasing and he was only just touched off over 1,600 metres. This extra 200 metres should really suit him and, with that run under his belt, we have to be very hopeful," said Ffrench, who has ridden 16 winners this season.
"We have made such a good start to the season at Grandstand Stables that it would be lovely to think we can keep it going. We have some nice chances this weekend and hopefully Yirga is one of the best ones," he added.
Ffrench's mount was beaten a head by Atlantic Brave on his only start of the season two weeks ago. A winner at Thirsk and Sandown in the UK when previously representing Godolphin, Yirga has not won in 14 starts since February, 2010 where he landed a handicap at this venue.
Among the horses that he faces today is Mulaqat who is trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam who won the Jebel Ali Stakes in January this year with Emrooz.
An eight-year-old son of Dubai World Cup hero Singspiel, Mulaqat has won over 1,950 metres at this course in March this year but has only had one start since when ninth behind Rochdale on the All Weather at Meydan racecourse.
Ibn Al Nafis and Eddie Jock represent former champion trainer Satish Seemar.
Stable jockey Richard Mullen who has chosen to partner the former said: "Eddie Jock will run his usual solid race but Ibn Al Nafis is a horse we have always thought a lot of.
"He won his first three ever starts, all at Jebel Ali, but then missed last season. He has needed his two runs so far this season and hopefully the trip will suit as he was staying on last time."
Oroveso bring a touch of international flavour to the race when he represents Brazil and trainer Fabricio Borges who returns the UAE after a gap of six years. He will be ridden by regular jockey Valmir De Azeredo.
Racing starts at 1:55pm and concludes at 5.05om with a competitive looking 1200m conditions race where Al Raihe's Mujaazef is bidding for a rare fourth win of the season.
Richard Hills who was in the saddle for the third of those wins four weeks ago commented: "He has been in a amazing form this season but does have to give weight to his rivals after his winning streak. Jebel Ali is not always the easiest place to give weight away but he loves the surface and seems in great form. He has to go close."
The main dangers appear to be the Seemar-trained duo of Terrific Challenge and Seachantach. The former finished just three quarters of a length behind Mujaazef and will be looking to level scores today.
Mullen said: "The 1000m is probably my fellow's optimum trip but he stays the extra 200 metres well enough. Mujaazef had the advantage of race fitness last time so hopefully we can give him plenty to think about as my horse will have come on from that outing."