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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

All eyes on Just A Penny even as Jebel Ali Mile Prep set for six-way showdown at Jebel Ali

Doug Watson's horse heads weights as he returns to Jebel Ali Racecourse, where he has recorded all seven of his victories

Trainer Doug Watson has a huge challenge on his hands in Jebel Ali on Friday. Tom Morgan / Alamy
Trainer Doug Watson has a huge challenge on his hands in Jebel Ali on Friday. Tom Morgan / Alamy

With the Dubai World Cup Carnival getting under way in a week's time, the Jebel Ali Mile Prep on Friday has attracted just six entries. Yet, we could be in for a treat.

Just A Penny heads the weights as he returns to the Jebel Ali Racecourse, where he has recorded all seven of his victories across distances ranging from 1,200-1,950 metres.

“He has been training very well and is in great form at home. So we are expecting him to run a big race," his handler Doug Watson said.

The six-year-old son of Kodiac has to carry 60 kilograms, but the UAE champion trainer said: “He is a big horse, so carrying the weight should not be an issue.

"He is also going to improve - condition-wise - for the run in what is the first realistic option we have had for him at Jebel Ali this season."

Watson has set his sights on next year's Jebel Ali Mile and Jebel Ali Stakes for Just A Penny to compete in. "This has been his planned comeback with those races in mind," he added.

But the Jebel Ali Mile Prep is a wide-open race, with any of the six horses having a chance to claim the Rated Conditions prize. Just A Penny's challengers include Musabah Al Muhairi’s pair of Zainhom and Takatul, Ahmad bin Harmash’s duo of Rocket Power and Ennobled Friend, and the Nicholas Bachalard-trained Albernathy.

Rocket Power, in particular, is to be wary of.

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The five-year-old Kyllachy gelding has won over 1,200m at Jebel Ali. He will be ridden by Connor Beasley, Bin Harmarsh’s retained jockey, who said his mount relished the racetrack having won both his previous starts here.

“This is a much better contest," Beasley conceded, "but he is in good form and should be thereabouts."

Al Muhairi’s runners carry the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, with Zainhom being ridden by Dane O’Neill and Takatul coming under Ben Curtis.

Meanwhile, Albernathy returns to his home track having finished in third place twice at Meydan this season.

“We are trying blinkers on him,” Bachalard said. “He has run well in both starts at Meydan this season, but we thought we would try something a bit different - thus the headgear."

Jebeli Ali's seven-race card meeting, which starts at 1.45pm, is not the year-ending meeting. Sharjah is set to host six races on Saturday.

The highlights of the meeting, which gets under way at 2.15pm, include the Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup - a Rated Handicap for thoroughbreds - and the Crown Prince of Sharjah Cup for Purebred Arabians with Prestige status.

Updated: December 28, 2018 08:41 AM

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