03/10/2011 2:23PM

Dubai Duty Free prep goes to Rileyskeepingfaith


Rileyskeepingfaith gave Godolphin a victory in the Group 2, $250,000 Zabeel Mile at Meydan on Thursday night. The last of six local preps for the $5 million Dubai Duty Free went to the gelded British-bred son of Hunting Lion by 2 1/4 lengths over Fareer, with Fanunalter a late closing third, 1 1/4 lengths further back.

Ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi, the winner covered the mile on good ground in 1:37.89.

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Even before the late scratch of Cat Junior, this edition of the Zabeel Mile had a decidedly dull look about it. Trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, Rileyskeepingfaith had been fourth in Bankable’s six-furlong, Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal on Tapeta on March 3, before which he had been second and fourth in a pair of six-furlong turf handicaps. This victory will probably earn him a spot in the Duty Free lineup, but he would have to show vast improvement to be a factor in that 1 1/8-mile Group 1 contest.

J J The Jet Plane succeeded in his trial for the Al Quoz Sprint when he won a straight six-furlong turf handicap worth $175,000 by 1 3/4 lengths from Iver Bridge Lad, clocking 1:10.18 in the process. Ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe and trained by Michael Houdalakis, the South African-bred 6-year-old took the wide route in victory. Starting along the far side rail in post 1, he drifted continually right throughout and crossed the line hugging the near-side rail. His performance was all the more remarkable as he was spotting his 12 rivals 14 to 16 pounds. For the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup Night, March 26, J J The Jet Plane will cut back to five furlongs, a distance at which he has not won since taking a Group 1 at Turffontein in South Africa in May 2008.

◗ Godolphin may switch Mendip to turf for his next start. The winner of Round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge was life and death last week when narrowly taking the Burj Nahar. Both were Group 3 races on Tapeta going a mile, a distance that Godolphin spokesman Simon Crisford deemed “too short” for him on Thursday. A tilt at the Dubai Duty Free as opposed to the Godolphin Mile may therefore be in the offing for a horse who will be sent turf racing in England in April.