When Secret Ambition lines up at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Saturday to contest the Jebel Ali Classic, he will not be judged by what he does or what he does not do.
One of the undeniable stars of UAE racing, the 10-year-old son of Exceed And Excel has given his owner, Nasir Askar, and trainer Bhupat Seemar, so many wonderful memories to cherish including an unforgettable major success on Dubai World Cup night.
As the first horse that Askar ever bought, he would inspire an entire stable that the passionate owner can now be proud of.
Seemar put into context the sentiments and Askar nursed ahead of Saturday’s race, which could once again propel him into the World Cup spotlight and a spot in the $1 Godolphin Mile (G1), one of night glittering races on the March 25 fixture.
“He owes us nothing,” said Seemar.
“He’s been such a great horse for Nasir and Zabeel Stables over the years.
“To be honest, I will be happy to retire him at this point in his career, but his owner is still keen on running him. It’s sometimes hard to let go.”
And it’s not hard to understand why.
Secret Ambition provided Seemar and Askar with a spellbinding moment when he aced his rivals to win the Godolphin Mile on an epic evening at Meydan Racecourse two years ago.
He has been sparingly campaigned since and while he may not have added to that lofty success, he has twice finished runner-up in competitive races like the Al Maktoum Challenge and the Jebel Ali Mile.
Seemar, who is well aware that should Secret Ambition win Saturday’s contest, he could get an invite to the Godolphin Mile, was quick to put the scenario into context.
“Yes, he will have to win impressively if he were to get an invite,” he said, “But having said that, we will by no means be disappointed if it doesn’t work out that way. But he’s got class and heart, so we’ll see how he runs first lest we get carried away.”
In what could be one of the last races of his career, Secret Ambition confronts some of the UAE’s most seasoned horses including the ex-Godolphin trained Monaadah, former UAE Oaks victor Down On Da Bayou, and 2020 Jebel Ali Classic scorer The greatcollection.
Saturday’s final Jebel Ali fixture also features the Listed Jebel Ali Sprint over five furlongs, a race which may or may not have implications on the Dubai World Cup card.
Among the strong field of 14 are the two most recent winners, Khuzaam and Al Tariq, both of whom are trained by Doug Watson.
After winning last year’s race, Shadwell’s Khuzaam went on to contest two major turf races at Meydan — the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on last year’s Dubai World Cup card and, the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint.
Now a seven-year-old, Al Tariq has won thrice since, including both the 2021 Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint and 2022 Group 3 Dubawi Stakes on the Meydan dirt track.
Commenting on the possibility of either or both his trainees getting into the Dubai World Cup frame, Watson said: “This has been the target for both horses.
“Khuzaam had a tough start to the season, getting him ready.
“He had a nice run in the Carnival (Blue Point Sprint), but this has always been the plan to try to and come back and win this race. He’s in good form and we are looking forward to seeing how he runs,” he added.
“Al Tariq has had a quiet year. But he’s a nice little horse and has been very, very good to us. Ever since his last run, he seems to be in good form and we’ve been pointing for this race.”
Shadwell’s Khuzaam sets the gold standard but speedsters like Story Of Light, Royal Commando, and Meshakel could test Watson’s charge to the line.
Shadwell also has the Bhupat Seemar-trained Zawaaya in the field. The four-year-old will be making only his second local and dirt start following his debut a fortnight ago when he finished fourth in a handicap at Meydan. The handler also saddles Leading Spirit, an impressive winner of a course and distance handicap a fortnight ago, and a third contender in Shamlaan.
Story Of Light was the impressive winner of the official prep for the Jebel Ali Sprint month ago where he was chased home by Salem bin Ghadayer’s Royal Commando.
The Jebel Ali Sprint is the second and final leg of the inaugural Emirates Sprint Series with Road Bloc, victorious in the first round in the HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, a 1200m conditions race at Sharjah, seeking a bonus if he can follow up.
Race 1 Maiden Over a Mile Cup, 2.30 pm
1. Margham; 2, Hasser
Race 2. Al Shafar Cup, 3 pm
1. Violent Justice; 2. Justice Proteco
Race 3. Bin Dasmal Cup, 3.30 pm
1. Thawhan; 2. Kal Barg
Race 4. Al Nayfat Stakes, 4 pm
1. Awasef; 2. Asawer
Race 5. Jebel Ali Sprint, 4.30 pm
1. Khuzaam; 2, Story Of Light
Race 6. Jebel Ali Classic, 5 pm
1. Secret Ambition; 2. Monaadah
Race 7. Tattersalls Cup, 5.30 pm
1. Yurman; 2, Meqdam
Day’s Best: Khuzaam
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