Montpellier Returns to Jebel Ali

Montpellier, ridden by Royston Ffrench, makes a quick return to Jebel Ali in the 1,200m Derrinstown Stud Conditions race after a fine performance over distance and course last weekend.

By Hisham Al Gizouli

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Published: Fri 22 Jan 2010, 11:56 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:22 AM

The gelded son of Montijou carries the hopes of the all conquering stables of local trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe in the feature race of the afternoon which has attracted a quality field of ten runners lining up for honours.

Having beaten debutant Silaah by nearly two lengths up the hill, Montpellier bids to reproduce a similar run ahead of the Dubai International Racing Carnival at the new Meydan Racecourse set to kick start on Thursday.

The race is also a rematch between Montpellier and the mount of William Buick Mannjal following an exciting finish early in the season at the same venue. Montpellier, under Ahmed Ajtebi, finished ahead of Mannjal but placing was reversed after the stewards’ enquiry. Mannjal was badly hampered and jockey William Buick snatched the verdict after the replay of the race TV footage.

Under the circumstances, the Dhruba Selvaratnam-trained Mannjal will pose the immediate danger should the Storm Cat gelding manage to reproduce his strong run in November and December.

“The race is very competitive and the horse of Dhruba Selvaratnam (Mannjal) will be hard to beat,” said trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe. “But, in all cases, my horse is in good shape and will run a big race,” he added.

However, this shall not be taken to mean that it’s going to be a two-horse race. Rocks Off, Kevin Shea up, leads a four-horse contingent of a highly encouraging seasonal appearance for the in-form stables of South African trainer Mike de Kock.

The four-year-old Orpen colt may need the run on UAE seasonal debut. But, given the form of the horse and the company, he may turn the tables and put his head first at the busy end.

Again, the well regarded Warsaw was a couple of lengths second behind Godolphin’s raider Asset over distance at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse last February, before he disappointed on a longer trip. And Friday’s distance may suit him better.

The six-race card kicks start early in the afternoon with the Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum UAE Breeders Society Plate, an eight-furlong contest for UAE-Bred Arabians.

Local trainer Musabah Al Muhairi is double-handed in the race with the stable’s jockey Wayne Smith partnering Bareq and leaving AF Qa’ed to be ridden by leading English jockey Royston Ffrench. Both horses are in with a chance to win the race. But, all eyes will be on the mount of Richard Mullen’s As Muheeb, a respectable second to Friday’s opponent AF Alghabra, Tadhg O’Shea in the saddle. The two horses renew their rivalry under more favourable conditions that could possibly help Muheeb to reverse places with his earlier conqueror.

Estihdaaf looks good to give English jockey his second win of the season in the second race on the card and For Once may return to the winners’ enclosures in the fourth race. The fifth race will be closely contested by a small of field of six runners. The 1950m trip may well suit the Doug Watson-trained Call Me George. Tadhg O’Shea who led the horse to his only of the season reunites with Call Me George in a bid to return to form and upset the field. Satish Seemar saddles Skycruiser under Richard Mullen in the final race with 11 horses lining up for honours. The five-year-old gelded son of Dubai Destination was a good second to Airbus last time out and hopefully he can go one better on this trip.

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