Dubai: The Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Kanaf will bid to extend his winning streak at Jebel Ali Racecourse when he lines up to contest the Dh120,000 Shadwell Handicap, the feature race of Friday’s meeting.
The seven-year-old son of former Darley July Cup (G1) winner Elnadim is unbeaten in three starts at the track this season and looks the pick of the nine runners contesting the 1200m sprint.
Former British champion jockey Paul Hanagan takes the ride for leading Emirati handler Al Muhairi, who sounded upbeat about his Oasis Stables star’s chances.
“Obviously he likes the track at Jebel Ali, where he has won four of his ten starts,” said the handler. “He’s a very genuine horse and looks to have found a new lease of life this season. We’re hopeful of another big run for him on Friday, although this is perhaps his toughest test to date.”
Kanaf’s rivals include two track record holders over six and seven furlongs in the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Mujaazef and stable companion Shaishee.
Although this will also be his first 1200m start of the season, Al Muhairi is confident Kanaf has the speed to cope with his challengers.
“He has a good turn of foot and we believe this is the right race for him,” he said. “Paul knows how to ride him and, given a bit of luck in the running, he should be there at the finish.”
Kanaf is one of five runners in the race owned by Shadwell supremo Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. The other runners who will race in Shaikh Hamdan’s famous blue and white silks are Mujaazef, Shaishee, Fityan and Murbeh.
“Shaikh Hamdan obviously has a really strong hand,” Hanagan said. “It is never easy to choose but I have won the last two on Kanaf and he is in great form. He has won over course and distance and will appreciate the likely strong gallop.
“It is a good little handicap and looks very competitive.”
Shaikh Hamdan’s second jockey, Dane O’Neill, rides Shaishee, and Wayne Smith, returning to action at Jebel Ali for the first time since suffering a broken collarbone in December, will be aboard Fityan.
Mujaazef will be ridden by Al Raihe’s stable jockey Royston Ffrench, with Emirati apprentice Saeed Al Mazrooei pencilled in for Murbeh.
Among the other contenders is 2011 Jebel Ali Sprint winner Spin Cycle, while Godolphin’s Silvestre De Sousa has picked up an interesting spare ride aboard Chasing Halos, one of the four runners trained Al Muhairi.
The weights are headed by Sholaan, trained on the track by Dhruba Selvaratnam, whose yard has been in fine form.
However, the danger to all the Jebel Ali regulars appears to be Lehaaf, who is trained in South Africa by Mike de Kock.
A solid fourth on his only UAE start in a 1600m Dubai World Cup Carnival all-weather handicap at Meydan, he takes his chances at Jebel Ali.
De Kock said: “Off his rating of 98 he is going to struggle to get a run in a Meydan handicap so this looks a good option for him. Hopefully he can run well and boost his rating to improve his Dubai World Cup Carnival prospects.”
The second most valuable race on the card is an 1800m handicap and Henry Clay, trained by Doug Watson, hopes to reproduce his course and distance victory of two weeks ago under Pat Dobbs.
His trainer Doug Watson said: “He has run well at Sharjah and Abu Dhabi this season but has certainly saved his best for Jebel Ali, where the surface and hill really suit him. We expect another really big run.”
1. Borkan Al Zobair 1; Knife 2.
2. Firstknight 1; Albayan 2.
3. Kanaf 2; Mujaazef 2.
4. Henry Clay 1; Green Rock 2.
5. Need To Know 1; Tiz Now Tiz Then 2.
6. Returning Hero 1; National Poet 2.
Day’s best: Kanaf.