Jebel Ali Stables boss Costa wants to win a Group 1 for Sheikh Ahmed on Saturday

Australian handler leads the UAE Trainer's Championship but is currently focused on seeing how his sprinters Mouheeb and Bilhayl perform at the Dubai World Cup meeting

By Leslie Wilson Jr

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Mouheeb won the Al Shindagah Sprint in impressive style in January. - Photo Dubai Racing Club.
Mouheeb won the Al Shindagah Sprint in impressive style in January. - Photo Dubai Racing Club.

Published: Fri 29 Mar 2024, 10:00 PM

Trainer Michael Costa is keeping the pressure under wraps as he heads to the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday where he hopes to pull off a big victory in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) with a horse who has for long been targeted at the 1,200-metre sprint.

Currently in only his season at Jebel Ali Stables the Australia handler has delivered some transformative results for a yard that has in recent years underperformed by their standards.

Speaking to Khaleej Times earlier this week Costa issued an upbeat bulletin about his expectations for Mouheeb, who runs in the colours of Maj. General Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, the owner of the historic Jebel Ali Racecourse and Stables.

“His preparation has gone well and we are extra happy with the horse,” he said. “This has been his target right from the start of the season. That’s why we didn’t take him to Saudi and skipper Super Saturday, as well.

“We believe that this is the best we’ve ever had him leading into the Golden Shaheen.”

Michael Costa in discussion with his jockeys at Meydan. - Instagram
Michael Costa in discussion with his jockeys at Meydan. - Instagram

Mouheeb, an American-bred six-year-old buy Flatter, has had just one start this season following his unsuccessful attempt at last year’s Golden Shaheen where he could only beat one horse home in the race won by Sibelius.

“That’s in the past and we’re not even thinking about it,” said Costa. “He drew wide and just didn’t get into the race after that,” he said. “But we’ve got a different horse this year.”

Mouheen certainly looked like a brand new horse when he outsprinted a classy field to win the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint Presented by Longines at Meydan on January 26.

“He’s trained on very well from his six and half win this season,” said the Australian handler who currently leads the 2023-2023 UAE Trainer’s Championship by two wins from Bhupat Seemar.

“His work for the last couple of weeks has been amazing and he has gone to another level. He’s ready to run his best on Saturday.”

Costa also saddle Bilhayl in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint over 1,200 metres, but on the turf track.

The son of Shamardal is a two-time winner at his home track at Jebel Ali and finished a respectable fifth in the prep for Saturday’s race won by British-trained Frost At Dawn.

“Bilhayl is another horse who has come one from his last run and I think we have him in a good spot heading to Meydan,” said Costa.

With just three meetings remaining before the curtains fall on the UAE racing season the Trainer’s Championship hands on a knife’s edge with meetings to come at Abu Dhabi and Al Ain next month.


“It’s business as usual,” said Costa addressing the situation. “We train every horse to be the best that they can be and everything else will take care of itself.

“There’s no need to put too much thought into it, that’s as much as we can do.

“But yes, I would be pretty chuffed if it did happen. But more importantly, it would be great to win a Group 1 for Sheikh Ahmed on the big night. That would be the cherry on the top,” he added.

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