Riflescope Zeros In On Jebel Ali

December 9, 2020

Riflescope wins a February 2019 DWC Carnival handicap (Erika Rasmussen)

Few horses are more likable for UAE racing fans than hard-trying high-level handicapper Riflescope, who has knocked heads with some of the best local six- and seven-furlong sprinters on both surfaces over the past few seasons. Owned by US-based Scotsman Bev Hendry’s Hot Scot Stable and Dubai-based Irish expat Michael Quinn, the 7-year-old gelded son of Raven’s Pass has just four wins from 43 tries, but has held his own for years–from finishing fourth in 2015 Royal Ascot’s Norfolk (G2) for initial trainer Mark Johnston as a juvenile to taking up the same placing behind world-champion sprinter Blue Point in the 2019 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3). 

On Friday at Jebel Ali, the late-running Satish Seemar trainee takes on a tough field in what looks to be his chance to shine if the cards fall his way. Over his preferred trip of seven straight panels, the Al Shafar Investment Handicap for horses rated 75-95 has also drawn unexposed Doug Watson trainee Canvassed and Ali Rashid Al Rayhi-conditioned G1 performer Moqtarreb (a half-brother to Khaloosy)–but it is Seemar who holds the strongest hand and Riflescope appearing his ace.

“Jebel Ali is the place he runs the best and he was second a couple races ago, running very well over this trip,” said Bhupat Seemar, assistant trainer. “I’m expecting a really good run and he’s drawn toward the rail, which is good because he has a tendency to hang right. I think he has a good chance, but it is also a tough race, including some of our horses. I don’t know if he will be a Group-level horse again and perhaps his best days are behind him, but I think he has plenty of good days left and loves Jebel Ali.”

Three others from Seemar’s Zabeel Racing Stables join the fray, led by Aman Kishore’s well-bred three-time French winner Hishikari (Pat Cosgrave), who hails from the same family as Frosted and Midshipman and was purchased at the Racing in Dubai Sale, as well as the Jebel Ali-loving pair of Ali Muktar’s Cachao (Nathan Crosse) and Nasar Askar’s Karaginsky (Tadhg O’Shea). The yard’s first rider, Richard Mullen, has chosen Riflescope. 

“Cachao also likes Jebel Ali and has a really low weight, so I think he could be dangerous,” Seemar continued. “As far as Hishikari, he’s talented, but is used to the flat tracks he raced on in France, so this is a fact-finding mission with him seeing the hill for the first time. Karaginsky, on the other hand, is proven up the hill and loves that straight. He was second in this spot last year and is in good form. He should run well.” 

Jebel Ali, a one-turned and right-handed course of weather-treated dirt that often is favourable to turf horses, has a steep uphill climb for nearly the entire final quarter-mile. The seven-furlong (1400m) distance is a straight chute.

Another who catches the eye on Friday at Jebel Ali from the Zabeel yard is Mazagran, making his first start in the UAE. The well-bred charge looks to graduate at fifth asking in the 14:30 (Race 3) older maiden over six furlongs. A son of War Front and Prix Saint-Alary (G1) winner Wavering, the Godolphin-bred now carries the colours of Ailan Hamad Kadfoor Al Mehairi. 

“I really like him,” Seemar said. “Unfortunately, though, we haven’t been able to get to the hill (at Jebel Ali) this season yet (in morning training), so it will also be his first time seeing it. He came from France, as well, and the flatter tracks there, so I think around a turn he will be tough at Meydan after this.” 

Seemar also mentioned that G2 winner Quip and G3 winner Secret Ambition are both being pointed to next Thursday’s Dubai Creek Mile (Listed) at Meydan, a key first step to the lucrative Godolphin Mile (G2) on Dubai World Cup night. 

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@PastTheWire wow. I am thankful you took the time to provide such detail about an all time great horse and the tragedy of that final race.

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