The opening races in the 2023-24 Bahrain Turf Series both produced impressive winners, with an internationally trained horse, Isle Of Jura, owned by HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa’s Victorious Racing, winning the first race and the locally trained Dairerin taking the second race, the sprint.
The imposing three-year-old gelding Isle Of Jura led a clean sweep for internationally trained horses in the Al Muharraq Cup (sponsored by Texel Air), the first leg of the middle-distance division in the Bahrain Turf Series.
Running in the colours of HH Shaikh Nasser’s Victorious Racing, familiar to racegoers both in Bahrain and England, Isle Of Jura came home over a length clear of his nearest rivals, who were led by Box To Box (trained by Hugo Palmer), with last year’s winner of the race, Lucander (trained by George Baker), staying on in third and international horses filling the first six places.
Isle Of Jura is trained by George Scott in Newmarket and was ridden by Callum Shepherd, who was enjoying his first winner in the Middle East. Brought out of Godolphin’s yard by Victorious Racing in March, Isle Of Jura was transferred to Scott, for whom he won twice in the summer in England. Today was the gelding’s first attempt beyond a mile, but he stayed on strongly in the style of horse who has yet more improvement to come.
Speaking after winning the Al Muharraq Cup with Isle Of Jura, HH Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said:
“My message for everyone coming to Bahrain is this course and this Series is for everyone, you have to be the best, but the joy for me is getting owners from all over the world competing in the Bahrain Turf Series. Winning today of course completes the whole vibe and makes me so happy.
“His Highness Shaikh Isa and his team are doing a great job. There is a very good atmosphere here and you can feel the spirit on course.”
The win gives Isle Of Jura a maximum 15 points in the Bahrain Turf Series and it was also a poignant one for trainer, George Scott, who said:
“This victory means a lot. His Highness Shaikh Nasser has been a huge supporter of me and it’s nice to come back and reward him in a small way.
“Isle Of Jura is a beautiful, big horse, bred to be a good horse. I was a little worried beforehand as he got a bit on his toes but I would say that should settle him down for the rest of the season. As for what next, we will re-group and Shaikh Nasser will no doubt come up with a plan and we will go from there.”
Winning jockey Callum Shepherd added that he had given up riding engagements in the UK so that he could be in Bahrain to help with Isle Of Jura’s preparation.
“He’s a horse we really like. We have put a lot of effort into him. George and I take him very seriously and I was over here early and missed some racing in the UK just to be involved with his prep, so today’s win is a just reward. I am very pleased.”
The second race in the series, the Al Manama Cup (sponsored by Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait), run over 1000m (5f), drew a maximum field of 18 and it was one of the horses who benefitted from the reserve system that went on to win the race.
The four-year-old Dairerin originally missed the cut at the declaration stage, but a subsequent withdrawal meant he was able to take his chance and in the hands of rider, Szczepan Mazur, Dairerin made the most of the opportunity to win the $80,000 race for local trainer Jaber Ramadhan.
Previously trained in Britain and Ireland, Dairerin was in good form in Bahrain last season following his arrival from Europe. A recent outing a fortnight ago had applied the finishing touches to his fitness and he ran out an impressive winner of a competitive race.
The placed horses were both internationally trained, with Squealer for Nigel Tinkler taking the runner-up spot (10 points) and Warrior Brave for Ross O’Sullivan in third (7 points).
The full results of both races can be viewed here. The next two races in the Bahrain Turf Series are run on Friday 29th December.
Friday 8th December 2023