Dream start for new Jebel Ali handler Costa

Sydney-born Costa got off to a dream start, saddling a double and a third-placer from four runners



Mouheeb coasted home a comfortable winner of the feature race of the afternoon, the Shadwell Handicap. — ERA
Mouheeb coasted home a comfortable winner of the feature race of the afternoon, the Shadwell Handicap. — ERA

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sun 30 Oct 2022, 12:01 AM

New resident trainer Michael Costa wasted no time to announce that he means business when saddling two winners at Jebel Ali Racecourse’s first meeting of the 2022-2023 UAE racing season on Saturday.

As the historic stables ushered in a new era laced with hopes and promises, Sydney-born Costa got off to a dream start, saddling a double and a third-placer from four runners.

Having quickly taken stock of his firepower at the 32-year-old facility, Costa dropped stable star and last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas hero Mouheeb to handicap company as a precursor to more important targets during the season, and the four-year-old colt will be aimed during the season.

With Australian jockey Jean Van Overmeire, also a new addition to the revamped Jebel Ali team in the saddle, Mouheeb coasted home a comfortable winner of the feature race of the afternoon, the Shadwell Handicap.

Just 20 minutes later, Costa and Van Overmeire celebrated their second success when Yojaari landed the Bin Dasmal Contracting handicap.

“Reybaal didn’t kick off our first runner in the season too well so that’s half an hour that I'm happy to forget but it's good to finish off with a double at the first meeting here,” said the 35-year-old Costa, who replaced Frenchman Nicholas Bachalard at the end of his three-year contract.

“Mouheeb is obviously a very nice horse and will improve for that first run.

“I’ve learned a bit today. We’ve got a little bit to work on and improvement to come,” he added.

“We’re going through a rebuilding process but I’m not just here to rebuild but to win this season.”

Following the directives of Major General Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, the owner and chief patron of Jebel Ali Racecourse, the management has also appointed Mohamed Al Ahmad as the new racecourse manager.

Engineer Mohammed Saeed Al Shehhi, Director General of the Office of Sheikh Ahmed and General Manager of Emirates Racing Authority, said: "We are confident in the youthful energy and expertise of Costa in training. Besides Costa, the appointment of Mohamed to manage the racecourse signals a new era in the history of the Jebel Ali track and Stables."

Ahmed, who has extensive experience in the equestrian field and belongs to a family that has been in racing for decades, said: “I hope I will be able to do justice to the trust shown by Sheikh Ahmed in giving me the charge of the track.

"I have received great support from the management of Jebel Ali Racecourse, and I will work with the organising committee, and we are confident that we will leave a mark."

On a busy opening week’s racing, Sharjah Longines Racecourse will host its first meeting of the new term where the highlight is the Dh 100,000 HE Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan Cup.


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