x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Victorious JJ The Jet Plane now favourite for Dubai World Cup

One of the world's highest-rated grass sprinters comes back from a disappointing effort on the Tapeta last month to hold off challenges from Iver Bridge Lad and Green Beret, despite carrying 7kg more than the rest.

JJ The Jet Plane, second left in purple silks, ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe, charges past the field to win the third race last night.
JJ The Jet Plane, second left in purple silks, ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe, charges past the field to win the third race last night.

Dubai // JJ The Jet Plane roared back into form at Meydan Racecourse last night, installing himself as a favourite for the Dubai World Cup-day Al Quoz Sprint on March 26.

The well-named gelding - one of the world's highest-rated grass sprinters - came back from a disappointing effort on the Tapeta last month to hold off challenges from Iver Bridge Lad and Green Beret, despite carrying 7kg more than the rest.

And weight is certainly an issue for JJ The Jet Plane at the moment. His trainer, Lucky Houdalakis, said the horse was carrying some condition when he ran out an uncharacteristic 11th in his Golden Shaheen Tapeta prep.

He was beaten on that occasion by last night's third, Green Beret. Now, given yesterday's victory on grass, Houdalakis said the gelding will be aimed at the turf Al Quoz Sprint instead.

"I'm relieved," said Houdalakis, who trained JJ The Jet Plane to multiple Grade One victories in South Africa before handing the horse over to globe trotting handler, Mike de Kock, for an international campaign.

Houdalakis, a part owner of the runner, took over training again in September last year after JJ The Jet Plane ended an uninspired spell with top British trainer, Richard Hannon.

"It's just not like him to come last, even considering the change in surface," said Houdalakis, who runs a small string in South Africa.

"I know what I did wrong, I gave him too much time off.

"He is still not down to his racing weight, but for his last run he must have been around 30kgs over weight and he was carrying an extra 7kg on top of that.

"It was not the right night to try him on a new surface.

"He's not quite down to his best weight and you would have to think that he will come on again for this run. He could be a little fitter and he'll be right on the night."

De Kock's jockey, Christophe Soumillon, sealed the jockeys' Carnival championship. He went into the evening's card on 11 victories while Frankie Dettori was on eight.

Double-winning Dettori closed the gap to just one. But when Dettori's Godolphin colleague, Ahmed Ajtebi, claimed the Zabeel Mile on Rileyskeepingfaith, it became apparent that Soumillon, though he did not win a race, could not be caught.

Meanwhile, Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, took the prize for the most wins of the Carnival, recording a treble thanks to the Frankie Dettori-ridden Emirates Champion and Whispering Gallery.

He also scored with Honour System, ridden by Ted Durcan and raced by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

De Kock, who was leading before last night's racing, just lost his grip on the Carnival championship, finishing second with an impressive 15 wins to bin Suroor's 16. Godolphin was the winning-most owner of the Carnival with 19.

Durcan, who rides Godolphin second-string horses, recorded his 12th winner of the UAE season with Honour System.

"I'm over the moon," he said. "The Godolphin horses are all firing.

"Saeed has his just right tonight and I've always said about these horses that I'm very happy to get up on any of them."

Peter Chapple-Hyam scored an early victory when Crying Lighting burst into form with a three-quarter-length victory over Herman Brown's filly, Chocolicious.

"There have been excuses for the other runs," said winning jockey, Jimmy Quinn, whose mount had been beaten by 15 and then 13 lengths in her two previous outings.

"My instructions were to keep her a bit more handy but they went hard at the front so I happy with where she was placed during the race."